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David O. Smith


The Pakistani Army has long been a challenging yet critical partner for the U.S.
On the one hand, Washington views it as the architect of policies that are
deeply problematic for the United States. These policies include the development
and production of nuclear weapons, and the provision of safe havens for
terrorists that target American soldiers across the border in Afghanistan. Despite
Washington’s efforts to get Pakistan to alter these policies, they have remained
in place for several decades.
At the same time, the Pakistani Army is a key U.S. interlocutor. This is due
to the Army’s strong influence on Pakistani politics, and to its powerful role
managing policy toward America. According to the U.S. government’s calculus,
Washington cannot afford not to work with such a powerful player in a nation
critical to American interests. Accordingly, while the United States supports
civilian institutions in Pakistan—particularly through development assistance
programs and its engagement with the Pakistani civilian leadership—military-to-
military ties play a major role in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.
For these reasons, it is helpful to know what members of the Pakistani
Army think. For example, what are their values; what are their attitudes toward
the United States and other key countries; how do they perceive internal and
external threats; what are their thoughts on Pakistan’s political situation; what
do they think about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program; and how do these
perspectives differ, if at all, within the Army and over time.
Given the sensitivity of many of these issues, getting answers to these
questions is not easy. To that end, this new study by David O. Smith represents
an invaluable addition to the literature. It offers a revealing window into the
thinking of three groups of Pakistani Army officers—senior officers (brigadier
and major generals); senior mid-level officers (lieutenant colonels and colonels);
and junior mid-level officers (captains and majors)—who served at the Pakistan
Army Command and Staff College in the city of Quetta between 1977 and 2014.
The study is based on the experiences and observations of American military
officers—including Smith himself—who attended the facility as students over
that 37-year period.
In 2016, U.S. officials decided to withdraw American military officers from
the Staff College due to security concerns. As Smith explains in his Author’s
Note, his decision to publish this study was made only after he concluded in late

The Quetta Experience

2017 that the U.S. government is unlikely to send any more officers to the facility
in the future.
While the study is now several years old, Smith rightly points out that
its findings and conclusions remain relevant and timely. The Pakistan Army’s
“attitudes and values have changed very little in the 37 years of this study,” he
writes, “and there is no reason to expect they will change appreciably in the
future, and certainly not in the next decade.”
The Wilson Center’s Asia Program is delighted to publish Smith’s study. We
hope it will serve as a useful resource for those interested in the U.S.-Pakistan
relationship, Pakistan, broader South Asia, and international relations on the

Michael Kugelman
Deputy Director, Asia Program, and Senior Associate for South Asia
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Washington, DC
July 2018

David O. Smith


The field research for this study began in early 2013 and ended in early
2014. The study itself was completed in the summer of 2014. There was no
expectation at that time that it would ever be published. Although it contained
no classified information, it was based primarily on interviews with U.S. Army
Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) that attended the Pakistan Army Command and
Staff College in Quetta between 1977 and 2014. Therefore, it was the sourcing
of the study rather than its content or judgments that was deemed by the
author and the study’s sponsor, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to be
sensitive. Thus, a decision was taken not to publish the study and to restrict its
circulation. Copies were provided only to agencies and offices of the Washington
Interagency policy and intelligence communities, to the regional combatant
commands in Tampa and Honolulu, and to a handful of South Asia specialists
in the Washington-based think tank community that were enjoined not to
disseminate the findings to outsiders. This was done solely from an abundance
of caution that the findings and conclusions, many of them critical of practices at
the Staff College, and by implication of the Pakistan Army, might make an already
difficult and challenging year at Quetta even more so for future U.S. students.
This concern was obviated in the spring of 2016 when the U.S. ambassador
in Pakistan, concerned about the safety and security of the two American
students in Quetta, directed the embassy’s Regional Security Office to perform
a site security survey at the college. When the Pakistani government refused
permission for the survey to be conducted, the Ambassador ordered the
students withdrawn from the course and returned to the United States.1 During
a visit to Islamabad in November 2017, I asked the ambassador if American
students might ever return to Quetta. He replied that according to information
he had been given, the U.S. Army FAO Proponent Office did not plan to send
another student to Quetta, finding it cheaper to train future South Asia FAOs by
funding short duration regional assignments than paying for a full year of study
at the Command and Staff College. With no American student likely to attend
the college in the future, there was no longer any reason not to make the study
available to a wider audience.
The study is now four years old. Two questions naturally arise. Are the study’s
findings and conclusions no longer valid? And should the study be completely
rewritten to bring it up to date to address significant events that occurred both
in Pakistan and the United States in the intervening years? The short answer to
both questions is “No.” After carefully reviewing my findings and conclusions,

The Quetta Experience

I believe the study remains as valid today as when it was originally written. As I
stated four year ago in the study’s last sentence, “The final point is simply this:
the [Pakistan] Army’s attitudes and values have changed very little in the 37 years
of this study, and there is no reason to expect they will change appreciably in the
future, and certainly not in the next decade.”
However, I appreciate the fact that several significant events have indeed
occurred in the last four years. These should be acknowledged, and, where
appropriate, commented upon.

U.S. South Asia Policy

The most startling change in the past four years has been the strong velocity
and scope of the upward trajectory in the U.S.-India relationship and the equally
strong velocity and scope of the downward trajectory in the U.S.-Pakistan
Let me illustrate. The rhetoric used both by India and the United States to
describe the bilateral relationship is nothing short of hyperbolic. Since becoming
the prime minister of India in 2014, Narendra Modi has visited the United States
five times. On his last visit, President Trump pointed out, “During my campaign,
I pledged that if elected, India would have a true friend in the White House.
And that is now exactly what you have—a true friend. The friendship between
the United States and India is built on shared values, including our shared
commitment to democracy. Not many people know it, but both American and
the Indian constitutions begin with the same three very beautiful words: We the
people.” To which the prime minister replied effusively, “Our robust strategic
partnership is such that it touches upon almost all areas of human endeavor. In
our conversation today, President Trump and I have discussed all dimensions
of India-U.S. relations at length. Both nations are committed to a bilateral
architecture that will take our strategic partnership to new heights….We consider
the USA as our primary partner for India›s social and economic transformation in
all our flagship programs and schemes. I am sure that the convergence between
my vision for a ‘new India’ and President Trump›s vision for ‘making America
great again’ will add new dimensions to our cooperation.”2
Contrast this with Senator John McCain’s pointed warning to Pakistan in July
2017: “We have made it very clear that we expect they [Pakistan] will cooperate
with us, particularly against the Haqqani network….If they don›t change their
behavior, maybe we should change our behavior towards Pakistan as a nation.”
This was followed the next month by the announcement of the long awaited U.S.
strategy for South Asia. In announcing his new policy, President Trump pointed
out Pakistan as a major concern and warned that it must stop providing safe
havens for terrorists who rest and refit for actions in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan,” he
David O. Smith

said, but also warned that “it has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals
and terrorists.” Later came the infamous—at least in Pakistan—New Year’s
Day tweet: “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion
dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies &
deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we
hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”3
But the Trump administration cannot solely be blamed for this change in
attitude toward Pakistan. It was the Obama administration, after investing five
years of effort to gain Pakistani cooperation in achieving its goals in Afghanistan,
which first began to punish Pakistan for refusing to address U.S. concerns. A
look at the Congressional Research Service’s periodic summary of U.S. aid and
reimbursements to Pakistan illustrates both the abruptness and the magnitude
of the change. Between a baseline year of 2014 and the budget request for the
2019 fiscal year, Foreign Military Financing (FMF) will decline from $280 million
to $80 million and total security-related assistance from $371 million to $113
million, a decrease of 70 percent. Coalition Support Funds reimbursements will
decline from $1.198 billion possibly to zero in 2019. Economic Support Funding
will decline from $477 million to $200 million with total economic-related funding
falling from $608 million to $223 million, a decrease of 65 percent. The total of all
U.S. funding for Pakistan then is slated to fall from $2.177 billion in 2014 to $686
million in 2019 (with CSF), or to only $336 million without it. This represents a
“best case” decrease for Pakistan of 69 percent and a “worst case” decrease of
85 percent.4
Although India does not receive any U.S. military or economic assistance,
the sales of U.S. defense items to New Delhi in the same period have risen
to approximately $15 billion. And starting from a 2014 baseline of $67 billion
in bilateral trade, the two sides have set a target of $500 billion, a level that if
achieved will exceed the current level of bilateral trade with Japan and bring it on
par with China.5
As bad as things already are for Pakistan, they could get worse. Pakistan was
declared a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the United States in 2004. Stripping
this designation has already occurred in a de facto sense because in 2016
Pakistan was denied permission by the U.S. Congress to use its FMF credits
to buy eight F-16 fighter aircraft. There was no outright denial of the sale, but
Pakistan was told it must use its national funds, not FMF, to make the purchase.
This made the sale too expensive for Pakistan to consummate. Other punitive
levers supposedly being contemplated by the Trump Administration are using
U.S. influence to oppose Pakistani interests in obtaining loans from international
financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank, formally stripping Pakistan
of its MNNA status, and placing visa restrictions on military and intelligence

The Quetta Experience

Changes in the Pakistan Army

At the heart of U.S. frustration with Pakistan is the continued harboring of
elements of the Afghan Taliban, and more specifically of the Haqqani network,
on its soil. Although he authorized a major operation to clear Tehrik-i-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP) militants from South Waziristan Agency in 2009 and promised
to do the same in North Waziristan Agency where the Haqqanis were then
ensconced, former Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani always found a
reason to delay the operation. His successor, General Raheel Sharif, launched
Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June 2014 in North Waziristan following an attack on
Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, for which the TTP and other affiliated
groups claimed responsibility. Despite a major retaliatory attack by TTP on an
Army Public School in Peshawar in December that year, which many Pakistanis
considered their 9/11 experience, Raheel and his successor, the present COAS,
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, persevered with the operation, in the process
destroying the main Haqqani headquarters at Miran Shah and forcing the group
across the Durand Line into Afghanistan and, according to U.S. intelligence
agencies, other locations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The Pakistan
Army vociferously denies that any element of the Haqqani network remains on
Pakistani soil, and it is this claim that so angers the Trump administration and
fuels the present adversarial relationship.
In response to this steep decline in U.S.-Pakistan relations, much discussion
has ensued recently in Pakistan about a so-called “Bajwa Doctrine,” named for
the current COAS. It was first mentioned by Director General of Inter-Services
Public Relations Major General Asif Ghafoor in early 2018 after Bajwa gave a
briefing to a group of journalists that was not recorded and for which no official
transcript is available. It is unclear precisely what is encompassed in the so-
called “doctrine,” but according to a recent analysis by the Royal United Services
Institute, a British think tank, it incorporates the following points pertaining to the
United States and Afghanistan:
• Pakistan has delivered everything it promised on Afghanistan. If more
needs to be done, it must be done by others, not Pakistan.
• “Pakistan is adamant that the time for American threats and directives
is over….and gone are the days of timidity and scurrying to please the
• “The Pakistani military is fully prepared to face any cuts in U.S. military aid
and potential threats of cross-border incursions by American forces and
feels its global recognition and reputation of its counter-terror efforts and
the military’s role is very different to what it was in 2001.”
• If the United States abandons Pakistan, other regional states like Turkey,
China, and Japan have made their support for Pakistan’s counter-terrorism
effort well known.
David O. Smith

• Pakistan also has its own cards to play. U.S. forces cannot move their
equipment into or survive in landlocked Afghanistan without the use of
Pakistan airspace and ground lines of communication.6

Changes in Pakistan’s Civil-Military Relations

Certainly the most momentous domestic political event in the past four years
was the Pakistan Supreme Court ruling that allegations of corruption disqualified
Nawaz Sharif from serving as the country’s prime minister. As a consequence,
Nawaz stepped down in July 2017. This marked the third time Nawaz had been
forced out as prime minister before completing his term of office. Many of his
supporters claim that the Army’s underlying hostility to him was the real reason
for the ouster. It was former COAS General Abdul Waheed that brokered a
deal resulting in his first resignation in 1991 and former COAS General Pervez
Musharraf that ousted him in a military coup in 1999. The present COAS, many
believe, operated behind the scenes to strike a nexus between the Army and the
judiciary to force him out a third time.7
In July 2018, Pakistan held an election. It was won by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-
Insaf (PTI) party of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan. In reality, it matters very
little which party forms the next civilian government. I stated in the study in 2014
that there had never been a period of civilian governance lasting longer than 11
years before a military coup, and cautioned that Pakistan was then beginning its
eighth year of civilian rule. This is now the 11th year of continuous civilian rule. Is
a coup imminent? The answer is no for the simple reason that the Pakistan Army
already has achieved everything it desires in governance, and especially popular
acceptance of its near-complete control over national security decision making
and Pakistan’s foreign policy with key states. In fact, what has been achieved
by the Army can be likened almost to a “coupless coup” that makes an actual
military coup not only unlikely, but no longer necessary.

Increasing Tension with India along the Line of Control (LoC)

In the last two years, the actions of the Indian Army in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K)
have radicalized a new generation of Kashmiri youth, rekindling an indigenous
militancy once thought to have been defeated. This has in turn fueled a level of
hostility along the LoC not seen since 2003.
While there is a chicken-and-egg aspect to nearly everything that happens in
Kashmir, the proximate cause of this situation appears to have been a July 2016
decision by the J&K Police and paramilitary Rashtriya Rifles to kill rather than
capture a youthful radical named Burhan Wani. Widespread protests erupted
in the Valley of Kashmir that lasted for nearly half a year. More than 90 people
died in the violence and over 15,000 civilians and 4,000 security personnel
were injured. A large part of the state was placed under complete curfew for
The Quetta Experience

53 consecutive days. This situation has since been further exacerbated by
increasingly harsh measures used against the civilian population in Kashmir by
regular Army troops and the Rashtriya Rifles.
Pakistan’s hands are not clean either. Its continued support for India-focused
militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) are well
known and well documented in the study. Perhaps in response to the death of
Burhan Wani two months earlier, four militants alleged by India to belong to JeM
attacked an Indian Army camp at Uri on September 18, 2016, killing 17 Indian
soldiers. Indian Army leaders interpreted this as a dramatic new escalation by
Pakistan requiring an equally dramatic response to redeem the izzat, or honor,
of the Army. The response was not long in coming. On September 29, 2016, the
Indian Army conducted what it described as “surgical strikes” on “launch-pads”
used by militants preparing to “carry out infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes
inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states.”8
These actions resulted in an increased number and intensity of violations
along the LoC. Although all statistics on Kashmir are suspect, there were
approximately 6,000 firing incidents in 2002 and 3,000 in 2003. After
negotiations between the BJP government and the Musharraf regime led to an
agreed ceasefire in November 2003, the number in 2004 plummeted to only
four. In contrast, the Indian Army claims Pakistan violated the LoC ceasefire 405
times in 2015, 449 times in 2016, and 860 times in 2017, with 147 incidents in
December, the most in any month since the 2003 ceasefire. Pakistan counters
with the claim that India violated the ceasefire more than 1,900 times last year,
with more than 75 violations in January 2018.9 Perhaps seeing that the situation
was spiraling out of control, both sides turned down the heat recently by
agreeing to a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan.10

Safety and Security of Nuclear Materials

One positive development that deserves to be highlighted is the sharp reduction
in incidents of terrorism in Pakistan since 2014. The study stated then that
the safety and security of nuclear weapons and fissile material were at risk
because of the expanding size and scope of the program coupled with a steadily
deteriorating internal security environment. I noted that in 2013 there were 355
terrorist attacks resulting in 5,379 deaths, with many attacks aimed directly at
the country’s security forces. The situation deteriorated even further in 2014,
a year that culminated with the December 16 terrorist attack by TTP militants
on the Army Public School in the Peshawar cantonment. The attack resulted in
150 fatalities, including 143 children, many of them the sons and daughters of
Army personnel, and several of the school staff. By comparison, 2016 saw “only”
172 attacks resulting in 1,803 fatalities, including 612 civilians, 293 security
force personnel, and 898 terrorists; and 2017 saw 132 attacks resulting in 1,260
David O. Smith

fatalities, including 540 civilians, 208 security force personnel, and 512 terrorists.
As of April 2018, there had been 17 attacks, resulting in 150 terrorism-related
fatalities, including 46 civilians, 51 security force personnel and 53 terrorists.11
Additionally, in the days before the July 2018 election, the nation was convulsed
by several attacks on electoral candidates, including one in Baluchistan that killed
about 140 people—the deadliest terrorist attack in Pakistan since the Army Public
School massacre in 2014. Still, overall, the intensity of terrorist violence in 2018
has remained relatively modest.
Much of this relative respite from terrorism has been due to two factors. The
first was Operation Zarb-e-Azb mounted by the Army in North Waziristan Agency
and expanding to the other FATA agencies. The operation was launched in June
2014 to eliminate all Pakistan-focused militant groups and was conducted with
great intensity through 2016. As a consequence, the overall security situation in
Pakistan improved and terrorist attacks soon dropped to a six-year low. Following
a brief resurgence of incidents in late 2016, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad began
countrywide in February 2017 to keep up the momentum. While the internal
security situation in Pakistan is still worrisome, it is admittedly much better than
in 2014 when I expressed grave concern about the safety and security of nuclear
materials. I continue to believe they are still at risk, but certainly not to the
degree they were four years ago.
Hopefully having brought the situation somewhat up to date, I should make a
confession in the interest of full transparency. I am the 1982 Student referenced
in the study. I freely admit that I had a marvelous time during my year in Quetta.
In the 36 years since I first entered the gates of the Command and Staff College,
and later as the U.S. Army Attaché in the embassy in Islamabad for six years, I
must have walked or driven through the Staff College gate dozens of times to
attend graduation ceremonies, accompany senior U.S. visitors on visits, or just
look in occasionally on the many American students that were my responsibility
in those years. I always felt more at home in Quetta that anywhere else in the
country. In 2005, my wife and I even made a personal visit there to attend the
centenary celebration of the college. It was a thrill for us to sleep one more
night in the house at the end of Street 4 where we made so many wonderful
memories, and to gaze once more on the comforting visage of the Sleeping
Beauty and the awesome grandeur of Murdaar Gahr. Over the years, I have met
16 Staff College commandants and more senior officers of the Pakistan Army
that served as directing staff members than I can count. I continue to treasure
the friendships I made among my Pakistani classmates and have tried to remain
in touch with as many of them as possible. Whenever I meet any Pakistan Army
officer, I proudly inform him that I am a “psc” and ask what year he attended
Quetta. We invariably have friends in common. At social events in Washington,

The Quetta Experience

I wear my staff college tie and tie clip to events where I know Pakistani military
officers will be present.
I say this because I fear that some of my Pakistani friends and classmates
may find the judgments made in this study, particularly in the present climate of
tension between our two countries, to be overly harsh, unfair, unjust, or simply
wrong. I hope this is not the case, as I have tried to be as scrupulously objective
as possible. Any criticism I have levied at either the Staff College or the Pakistan
Army should be taken as it was intended—constructive criticism aiming to
promote positive change in both institutions.
One final note: ANNEX B of the study contains 31 transcribed interviews,
returned questionnaires, statements, and end-of-tour reports of former students,
the transcripts of which take up 246 single-spaced pages. Much of the material
is repetitious because of the nature of the structured interview technique used
by the author. Additionally, the interview transcripts contain personal information
about each FAO’s background and occasional personal comments about persons
they met at the Staff College that are irrelevant to the findings of the study. For
these reasons, and because publishing them would likely have tripled the cost of
publishing this book, they have been omitted.

Colonel (ret) David O. Smith
Alexandria, Virginia
July 2018

David O. Smith


David O. Smith is an independent consultant to Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory and Science Applications International Corporation on issues related
to South Asia. He is also a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center.
Additionally, he participates in a series of regular engagements with
senior Pakistan and India officials sponsored by the Naval Postgraduate School
in Monterey, California, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center in
Washington D.C. He is regularly consulted on Pakistan-related issues by the
State Department, the Foreign Service Institute, Georgetown University, the U.S.
Army War College, the National Intelligence Council, the Department of Defense,
the National Security Council, and several Washington-area think tanks.
He retired from government service in May 2012 after serving in a senior
executive position in the Defense Intelligence Agency. Prior to that he was
Senior Country Director for Pakistan in the Office of the Under Secretary of
Defense (Policy) in the Department of Defense. During thirty-one years of active
duty service in the U.S. Army, he became a Foreign Area Officer and spent 22
years dealing with politico-military issues in the Near East and South Asia. He is
a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, U.S. Army Command and General Staff
College, Armed Forces Staff College, and the Pakistan Army Command and Staff
His most recent publications include the chapter “The U.S. Experience with
Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Lessons for South Asia,” Michael Krepon and Julia
Thompson (eds.), Deterrence Stability and Escalation Control in South Asia,
(Washington D.C.: Stimson Center, 2014) and his analysis of “The Management
of Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal,” published by The Nonproliferation Review in
September 2015.


Pakistan nominally has been a strategic partner of the United States since
2001, but it has been the source of enormous frustration to U.S. policymakers.
It provides sanctuary and limited support to a variety of militant groups fighting
U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, as well as to other militant groups whose
terrorist acts in India have twice brought the two states to the brink of war since
The United States cannot simply walk away from Pakistan because of four
important national interests: defeating Al Qaeda and affiliated groups operating
from Pakistani soil, ensuring the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal,
stabilizing Afghanistan, and preventing a regional conflict between Pakistan and
India that could escalate to the nuclear level. The Pakistan Army is the key to
achieving each of these objectives, but there is concern that the demographics
of the Army have changed and that officers from the middle and lower social
classes are susceptible to radical influences. In short, there is concern that the
Army is becoming “Islamized.” But because of a sharp deterioration in bilateral
relations since 2011, U.S. access to Army officers is limited and information on
current attitudes and values in the Army is difficult to obtain.
This study examines the experiences of U.S. Army Foreign Area Officers
(FAOs) who have attended the Pakistan Army Command and Staff College in
Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province. These are the only U.S. personnel
ever to have had sustained interactions over an extended period of time with
three distinct groups of Pakistan Army officers: senior officers (brigadier and
major general), senior mid-level (lieutenant colonel and colonel), and junior mid-
level (captain and major). The study’s purpose was to examine the attitudes and
values of the Pakistan Army officer corps over a 37-year period from 1977 to
2014; determine if they had changed over time; and identify the drivers of that
Key findings of interest to the policy and intelligence communities include
the following:

• The background of the top-finishers at the Staff College, those that will rise
to the senior ranks, is unchanged despite demographic and social changes
in the officer corps.
• The fear of “Islamization” within the officer corps or its susceptibility to
radical religious influence is exaggerated.

The Quetta Experience

• The U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is
crucial to promoting positive military values in the Pakistan Army.
• There is a “generational divide” about the prioritization of Pakistan’s
external and internal threats. A growing number of recent students believe
Pakistan-focused militant groups are Pakistan’s most significant military
threat, exceeding that posed by India.
• The United States is viewed as a military threat to Pakistan because of the
perception that it intends to seize or neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
• Neither the Afghan National Army (ANA) nor Afghanistan-focused or India-
focused militant groups are perceived as credible military threats to the
Pakistani state. Only Pakistan-focused militant groups are seen as a threat.
• The Army supports democracy in theory, but is harshly critical of civilian
governance in practice.
• The implications of strategic or tactical uses of nuclear weapons are not
well understood, and no doctrine for nuclear warfighting is taught at the
Staff College.

The implications of these findings are both positive and negative for the
attainment of U.S. regional objectives.

• The Pakistan Army will continue to be led for several years by officers
who perceive value in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, but a growing anti-
American narrative in the country will make sustaining the relationship
increasingly difficult.
• The Army is likely to maintain its cohesion and discipline in spite of
demographic and social changes in the officer corps.
• An eroding conventional military balance with India and systemic
weaknesses in the Pakistani military establishment make it likely that
Pakistan will be compelled to escalate to the nuclear level quickly in a
future war with India.
• Because of Pakistan’s steadily deteriorating internal security environment
and the increasing size and scope of its nuclear program, the safety and
security of Pakistani nuclear weapons or nuclear materials are increasingly

The most surprising finding of the study is the relative consistency of the
attitudes and values of Staff College students over the 37-year study period. Any
perceived change in Pakistani policy in response to the application of carrots or
sticks by U.S. policymakers will almost certainly be tactical and temporary.

David O. Smith


This study is the first systematic examination of the experiences of U.S. Army
Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) who attended the Pakistan Army Command and
Staff College. 12 These FAOs are the only U.S. personnel, military or civilian,
governmental or non-governmental, ever to have had sustained interactions over
an extended period of time with three distinct groups of Pakistan Army officers:
senior officers (brigadier and major general), senior mid-level (lieutenant colonel
and colonel), and junior mid-level (captain and major). The purpose of the study
is to examine their experiences at the Staff College to ascertain the attitudes
and values of the Pakistan Army officer corps over a 37-year period from 1977 to
2014, to determine if they changed over time, and if so, to discover the driver(s)
of that change. In the course of developing the scope of this study, the author
and project manager had several discussions with senior officials of the U.S.
government policy and intelligence communities. All expressed concern about
the following questions, which are a major focus of the study:

• Have demographic changes altered the traditional recruitment and
socialization patterns of the officer corps and made the Pakistan Army
more susceptible to radical Islamic influence?
• Have events since 9/11 changed the perception of the Pakistan Army about
the desirability of the United States as a security partner?
• Has the threat perception of the Pakistan Army changed? More
specifically, does the Pakistan Army view the internal security threat posed
by radical Islamic groups to be greater or lesser than the external threat
posed by India?
• How likely is it that the Pakistan Army will cease supporting Afghanistan-
focused radical groups like the Afghan Taliban senior leadership and the
Haqqani Network, and India-focused radical groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and
• What is the likelihood that the Pakistan Army will stage another coup
against an elected civilian government?
• How does the Pakistan Army view the efficacy of strategic and tactical
nuclear weapons, and has a doctrine been developed for their use?

The Quetta Experience


This study relies primarily on personal interviews with U.S. Army Foreign Area
Officers (FAOs) that attended the Pakistan Army Command and Staff College as
part of the In-Country Training (ICT) phase of FAO training. When these officers
are referred to in subsequent portions of the study they will be designated as
“Student(s)” with a capital “S” to differentiate them from the more generic
term, “student(s).”
The base year of the study is 1977, the earliest Staff College course from
which a FAO graduate was found. During the 37-year period from 1977 until
2014 a total of 42 U.S. Army FAOs attended the Staff College. Of these, 37 were
found and 31 agreed to participate. The author conducted personal interviews
with 26. Three others submitted responses to a detailed questionnaire, two
because they were serving in an overseas assignment and it was not possible
to travel to their location, and one who declined to be interviewed but agreed to
submit a questionnaire. The author, a Staff College graduate himself, submitted
a detailed statement of his experience that was based on the questionnaire.
The author also discovered a copy of the end-of-tour report submitted by the
1980 student, who was not located, and portions of the report responsive to the
questionnaire were extracted. Thus, a total of 31 data samples covering 25 years
of the 37-year study period were obtained. In three years of the study period,
1979, 1991, and 2005, no American student attended the Staff College. The only
significant gap in the study occurs in the three-year period of 1998 through 2000
when Staff College graduates were either deceased, not found, or did not agree
to participate.13
No attempt is made to quantify the responses given by the Students
because the sample size is too small for meaningful statistical analysis. The
responses are used to identify broad patterns of behavior and attitudes in the
three different sub-groups of the Pakistan Army officer corps that the Students
observed during the study period: senior officers, the faculty (Directing Staff),
and Pakistani students.
The original concept for obtaining data was to convene a series of regional
conferences where FAOs would participate in a series of structured discussions
over a two-day period. The first conference was scheduled for 26-27 October
2012 in Charleston, South Carolina, but was cancelled when legal objections
were raised by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) General
Counsel over future reimbursements for travel and per diem expenses for
serving government and military personnel. A subsequent one-day event for

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FAOs residing in the Washington, DC area was held on February 9, 2013. A
transcript of the event was prepared by a LLNL employee, but after reviewing
the document, the author and project director agreed that no future gatherings
should be held. They discovered that in each of the five lines of inquiry being
examined, there was a wide variation in the level and quality of participation by
the attending FAOs. Additionally, the lack of time available for the five sessions,
roughly 90 minutes for each, inhibited detailed discussion and was too short to
cover every question in the research methodology. Therefore, the decision was
made to conduct one-on-one interviews with all future study participants and
to re-interview the six participants that attended the February 9 event. The 26
personal interviews that resulted from this process required two and one half to
three and one half hours to complete for each participating FAO. The transcribed
notes from these interviews range from five to twelve single-spaced pages. The
interview notes, questionnaire responses, the statement by the 1982 student,
and the single end of tour report are in ANNEX B.
The ability of individual FAOs participating in the study to recall specific
information about their Staff College experience varied considerably from
person to person. These differences were likely influenced not only by how
long ago they attended the course, but by their attitude at the time. Some
FAOs considered their year at the Staff College to be a seminal experience
in their professional lives, while others considered it merely to be another
military course they had been ordered to attend—and endure—a very long
time ago. Some FAOs arrived at the Staff College exceptionally well prepared
by a year of graduate school, consultation with earlier graduates, and as much
as 44 weeks of Urdu language training; others showed up with virtually no
preparation or knowledge of Pakistan. Some used the year at the Staff College
to immerse themselves in the culture and society of Pakistan, while others
were frustrated, and even angry, about the relatively austere living conditions,
separation from their families (no Student attending after 2001 was allowed to
bring family members with him), the onerous security restrictions imposed by
the Staff College after 9/11, and what they considered to be the outdated military
doctrine being taught. As a consequence, some FAOs had vivid memories of
their experience in Quetta, while others had almost no memories at all, being
unable without prompting to recall the names of individual Pakistani students
in their syndicates or even the Staff College Commandant. Many, though not
all, retained their Staff College yearbook, The Review, and made it available to
the author, who extracted information from them about student demographics,
allied student participation, major exercises, guest speaker lists and topics, and
the college’s annual seminar topics. Only two participants, the 1982 Student and
one of the 2011-2012 Students, kept the weekly training schedules that allowed

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a close examination of the hours allotted to the internal security, joint operations,
and nuclear portions of the curriculum in those years.
A final limiting factor was the zeal with which the Pakistan Army protects
virtually all information about itself, even in areas that most Western observers
consider to be completely innocuous. For example, the standard biographic
information released about newly promoted senior officers in the Pakistan Army
normally omits assignments, unit designations, and military schools attended,
typically disclosing only that the officer has held a variety of command, staff,
and educational appointments. The 1987 Student once took to his seminar
room an issue of The Army Times, a weekly commercial newspaper published
in Washington D.C. focused on information of interest to U.S. Army personnel.
His Pakistani classmates were amazed at the transparency of the U.S. military
in matters that are considered to be extremely sensitive in Pakistan: criticism
of senior military leaders and their military policy decisions; data about weapon
system performance, development, and testing; numbers of troops and their
locations in operational areas around the world; and details of officer promotions
and postings.14 The complete lack of transparency in the Pakistan Army in these
and many other areas are probably the basis for the perception of many Students
that their Pakistani classmates had been briefed—or warned—not to discuss
with them the following subjects: religion, the role of Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI), and all nuclear issues.
This study originally was designed to identify the attitudes and values of the
Pakistan Army officer corps in the five general lines of inquiry listed below. More
detailed questions that formed the basis of the personal interviews and survey
questionnaire were developed jointly by the author and project manager. The
complete list of questions used in the study is at ANNEX C.

Demographic and Social Issues

How have the social class origins of Pakistani students and faculty at the Staff
College changed over time? Are the attitudes of students from previously under-
recruited areas different from those from traditional recruitment areas? Are
current students more conservative religiously than earlier students? What is
their level of social cohesiveness and is there any potential for factionalism in the
Army based on religion, ethnicity, or social class?

Perceptions of External Threats and Friendships

Have the attitudes of Pakistani students toward India changed over time,
and is India considered a greater or lesser threat than previously thought?
Similar questions will be asked about the United States, China, Russia, Iran,
Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia. A particular focus of inquiry will be whether the
general nature of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has
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been irreparably damaged by recent events or if there a residue of trust that may
allow it to be refurbished?

Perceptions of Internal Threats and Friendships

Have the attitudes of Pakistani students toward extremist groups operating on
Pakistani territory changed over time? How has the threat perception of the
generation of Army officers in the last 10 years been changed by the experience
of fighting extremist groups in the western areas of Pakistan?

Attitudes toward the State and its Institutions

Have the attitudes of Pakistani students toward the Pakistani state and
democratic governance evolved over time? Are they more or less amenable to
another military government? Have the influences of the internet, news media,
and social networking affected their attitude?

Attitudes toward Nuclear Issues

Have the attitudes of Pakistani students and faculty concerning the employment
of nuclear weapons evolved over time? More specifically, what are their views
about the efficacy of using tactical nuclear weapons? What kind of warfighting
doctrine might be employed in a future conflict with India?

The Quetta Experience


The U.S.-Pakistan relationship has long been fraught with mistrust,
misunderstanding, and misaligned strategic objectives. For more than 60 years
it has resembled nothing so much as a roller coaster ride with remarkable
highs interspersed with equally dizzying drops. One observer has described the
relationship as an ongoing play in eight acts with the ninth act yet to be written.
Four of the acts have been have been relatively high points and four have been
equally low, including the present one. Recapitulating these events is beyond
the scope of this study, and has been done by scholars from both sides. But a
common thread interwoven from era to era is the extraordinarily high level of
mutual mistrust and misunderstanding of each side’s motives and expectations.15
After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Pakistan nominally became a strategic
partner of the United States in the war on terrorism. It was formally designated
a Major Non-NATO ally in 2004, is among the largest recipients of U.S. military
and economic assistance since 9/11, and has received several billions of dollars
in reimbursements for support provided to Operation Enduring Freedom.16
Yet Pakistan, for its own regional policy objectives, has at the same time
provided sanctuary and limited support to a variety of militant groups waging
war against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, among them the Taliban
Senior Leadership of Mullah Omar and the Haqqani Network. It similarly has
provided limited support and safe haven to militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba
and Jaish-e-Muhammad that have committed numerous spectacular terrorist
acts in India, bringing the two countries to the verge of war in 2001 and 2008.
Another disturbing development has been a dramatic increase in the negative
opinion of the United States by the Pakistani population. In 2013, 64 percent
of the population in Pakistan considered the United States to be an “enemy,”
slightly down from the all-time high of 74 percent in 2012. Less than half those
questioned, 47 percent, thought it was important to improve relations, down
from 64 percent in 2010.17
Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on certain elements of the
war on terrorism, and its duplicity on others, has been deeply frustrating for
U.S. policymakers who are caught in a strategic dilemma. This dilemma—that
eventual success in Afghanistan depends on Pakistani cooperation—was first
described by President Barack Obama in December 2009:

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Our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our
partnership with Pakistan…. There is no doubt that the United
States and Pakistan share a common enemy. Moving forward,
we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan built on mutual
interests, respect and trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s
capacity to target groups that threaten our countries and have
made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe haven for terrorists
whose location is known and whose intentions are clear.18

Within two years of the President’s announcement, a series of events
occurred in 2011 that rapidly brought the U.S.-Pakistan relationship to a startling
new low. These included the Raymond Davis incident in Lahore in January
in which a U.S. security contractor killed two Pakistanis he thought were
threatening him; a cross-border raid by U.S. special operations forces in May
that resulted in the death of Usama bin Laden (UBL) in Abbottabad; and a
series of border incidents along the Durand Line culminating in a U.S. airstrike
in September on the border post at Salala that killed 24 military personnel.
After the UBL raid, approximately 200 U.S. military personnel that had been
engaged for years in training Pakistan’s Special Services Group and paramilitary
Frontier Scouts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province were told to leave the province
immediately. Eventually, most had to depart the country.19 After the Salala
incident, Pakistan refused to accept a U.S. statement of regret, declined to
participate in a joint investigation of the incident, and made a series of dramatic
gestures to demonstrate its anger. These included closing the U.S./NATO ground
lines of communications that ran from the port of Karachi into Afghanistan,
demanding the United States vacate an air base at Shamsi that had been used
for counterterrorism operations since 2001, and refusing to participate in a major
conference in Bonn to discuss the Afghanistan peace process.20 The United
States responded in turn by freezing the disbursement of coalition support funds
(CSF) to reimburse Pakistani expenditures for military operations in support
of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ground supply lines remained closed for
nearly seven months until a formal U.S. apology that had been demanded as
a pre-condition to re-opening them was received. Another year passed before
the bilateral political and military-to-military relationships began to return to any
semblance of normalcy.
Despite this checkered history and monotonous litany of complaints by both
countries about the other, the United States cannot afford to walk away from
Pakistan. It continues to have two vital national interests there: defeating Al
Qaeda and its affiliated groups that operate from Pakistani territory and ensuring
the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Two related interests are
nearly as important: stabilizing Afghanistan and preventing a regional conflict

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between Pakistan and India that could escalate to the nuclear level.21 In each of
these four interests, the Pakistan Army holds the key to success or failure. Even
during episodic periods of civilian rule, the Army wields enormous influence
over key foreign policy relationships, the military budget, and sensitive national
security decisions. The Pakistan Army is also the custodian of nuclear weapons
and is responsible for all key decisions made to develop and employ what may
soon become the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal. Additionally, in the 66
years Pakistan had been an independent state, there have been four periods
of military rule lasting a total of 33 years. Only for the first time in its history, in
2013, did a freely elected democratic government finish a full five-year term of
office. There is also growing concern in U.S. policy circles that the demographics
of the Pakistan Army have been changing in the last few decades, that officers
from traditional elite groups are no longer joining the ranks, and that officer
cadres coming from the middle and lower social classes are more conservative
in their religious orientation and more susceptible to radical or extremist
influences. In short, many knowledgeable observers are concerned that the
Army is becoming “Islamized.”22
Therefore, the ethnic and social origins of Pakistan Army officers and their
views on civil-military relations in Pakistan, key foreign policy relationships, and,
in particular, the employment of nuclear weapons are critically important pieces
of information required by senior U.S. decision makers. Unfortunately, access by
U.S. Embassy personnel to Pakistani military officers, never good even during
the better times in the relationship, has declined precipitously in the last three
years paralleling the trajectory of the overall relationship. The number of U.S.
military personnel deployed in Pakistan to provide military assistance and training
has fallen by two-thirds, from more than 300 in 2011 to approximately 100 today,
and these numbers may decline even further.23 As a consequence, routine
access to Pakistan Army officers is limited to a carefully vetted group of senior
officers, perhaps no more than 100, and normally only in official settings. There
is even less access to mid-grade and lower ranking officers, Pakistan›s next
generation of leaders, and none at all to junior commissioned officers or enlisted
personnel.24 With the present restrictions on access and travel imposed by the
Pakistan Army on official U.S. personnel in Pakistan, there are few available
avenues to obtain information on the attitudes of Pakistan Army officers.
One resource that has been ignored in the past does have the potential to
provide useful insights about the Pakistan Amy. This is the collective experience
of a small group of U.S. Army Foreign Area Officers (FAOs) that have attended
the Pakistan Army Command and Staff College in Quetta, long considered to
be the premier institution of professional military education in Pakistan. For
decades, these personnel have spent nearly a full year (the Staff College course
is 44 weeks long) in daily contact with lower mid-level (captain and major)

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officers of the Pakistan Army, often working long into the night on tactical
problems and group projects. During this time, many of them formed strong
personal relationships with their fellow Pakistani students as well as the college
faculty (lieutenant colonels and colonels) and the senior officers (brigadier
and major general) at the Staff College. A few developed strong personal
attachments lasting for decades after graduation. Yet virtually none of these
FAOs were systematically debriefed by any agency of the federal government
when they returned home. Other than their end-of-tour reports, which were
quickly filed away by the U.S. Army FAO Proponent Office and mostly discarded
when digital files replaced paper ones, there is no record of their experience and
insights available to the policy and intelligence communities in any searchable
database. Yet in many ways, this small group of FAOs, many long retired from
government service, were and still are better placed than embassy and military
official personnel to understand the internal dynamics of the Pakistan Army and
to answer the questions raised by senior policymakers.

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History and Significance

The Staff College is widely considered to be the premier professional military
education institution of the Pakistan Army. Although the National Defence
University in Islamabad is responsible for training the Army’s senior military
officers in the operational and strategic levels of war, it is a relatively young
institution spun off from the Staff College, which had that responsibility from
1962 until 1970. In assessing the relative importance of the two institutions, one
former Commandant of the Staff College explained, “Many may think that the
higher leadership is determined by the NDC [National Defence College, now the
National Defence University], not quite so. It is the C&SC [Command and Staff
College] that…determines…who goes to NDC.”26
Because only about 20 percent of Staff College graduates are selected to
attend the NDU, for the remaining 80 percent, their year in Quetta represents the
only higher level professional military education they will ever receive. The Staff
College’s unmatched reputation in the Army is based on a combination of factors,
including its age, its roster of distinguished alumni, and the circumstances
surrounding the Partition of British India in 1947.
In 1900, the size of the Indian Army was approximately 150,000 officers
and men, with about half its strength comprised of regular British Army units.27
Yet only six slots annually were reserved at the British Army Staff College
at Camberley for officers in the Indian Staff Corps. When Field Marshal Lord
Kitchener became Commander-in-Chief in India in 1902, he developed a plan to
reorganize and increase the size of the army. With a new and larger requirement
for trained staff officers, and knowing that Camberley would not be able to
satisfy it, he determined to start his own school to train Indian Army staff
officers. Kitchener’s proposal was deemed unacceptable by the Army Council on
the grounds that a Staff College in India might foster another “school of thought”
in the British Army. Kitchener replied furiously that there was no school of
thought in the British Army, except for the opinions of a few senior officers, and
refused to back down. Within three years he obtained sufficient funding for his
staff college to open temporarily at Deolali while a more permanent institution
was constructed at Quetta, a site chosen specifically for its proximity to the
northwest frontier of British India. The first course consisted of 24 students,
one-third from the regular British units in India and the remainder from the Indian
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Army. The newly named Indian Staff College moved to Quetta in 1907. Its roster
of distinguished faculty members and graduates over the next 40 years boasts
eight field marshals and 20 full generals, including such luminaries as Field
Marshals Bernard Law Montgomery, Sir Claude Auckinleck, Lord Slim of Burma,
S.H.F.J. Manekshaw and Muhammad Ayub Khan, and Generals Lord Ismay, Sir
Douglas Gracey, and K.M. Kariappa, the first native-born Commander-in-Chief of
the Indian Army.28
As the deadline for Partition loomed in the spring of 1947, Field Marshal
Auckinleck, then the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, recommended
a division of the army’s personnel and assets between the two soon-to-be-
born states in the proportion of 70 percent to India and 30 percent to Pakistan,
roughly the percentage of Hindu and Muslim soldiers in the Indian Army. By
July 1947, the division was well underway in the agreed categories of personnel,
moveable stores and equipment, and installations, with the overall percentages
slightly modified to 64/36. Of the 46 training installations in British India, only
seven were in the territory that would become Pakistan. And of these, only
the Staff College was considered to be a major asset. Three others were the
much smaller schools of military intelligence, air defense artillery, and logistics,
and three were minor educational support facilities.29 Although two-thirds of
the personnel and moveable stores ultimately departed Quetta, the prized
10,000-volume Staff College library remained intact. A part of the Staff College
folklore is that the sole remaining Pakistani member on the faculty, Lieutenant
Colonel Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan, who later became Commander-in-Chief of
the Pakistan Army and ruled Pakistan under martial law from 1969 to 1972, slept
in front of the library door for several nights to prevent departing Hindu faculty
members from taking any books with them to India.30

Mission and Objectives

Like its name, the purpose of the Staff College has changed several times over
the years. In the original 1905 charter, the purpose was “to train staff officers
for the Indian Staff Corps and the same regulations, entrance requirements, and
methods of training as those in force at Camberley were to be adopted.” By
the Golden Jubilee in 1955, the purpose had become “to train officers to the
standard required of a second grade staff officer up to divisional level of war.”
At the Platinum Jubilee in 1980, the purpose had slightly broadened “to train
selected officers for war and in so doing fit them for grade 2 staff appointments
and with further experience, for command.” Today, the mission has even further
expanded “to impart necessary education to selected officers, enabling them to
assume grade-II appointments and to inculcate in them personal and professional
ethics and abilities to prepare them for higher command and staff roles.”

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From this statement of purpose, two primary objectives are derived:

“Professional Competence. In the field of Professional Competence, a Staff
College graduate is expected to:
--Understand the regional security environment and be familiar with global
security issues.
--Understand the internal and external threat spectrum.
--Understand the evolution of warfare and laws of armed conflict.
--Grasp the environment of the future battlefield and be capable of operating
effectively therein.
--Have a clear understanding of joint operations.
--Understand and apply combined arms doctrines at the brigade and division
levels in all terrain configurations.
--Have a clear understanding of military methodology.

Personal abilities. As regards personal abilities, our graduates are expected
--Be able to communicate effectively and develop interpersonal skills.
--Be resilient and hard working.
--Be able to handle change.
--Be able to handle complexity, uncertainty, and stress.
--Be self-confident.
-- Be logical, practical, original, and creative in thinking and reasoning.
--Be effective managers of time, information, and resources.
--Develop the habit of regular study.
--Understand the value of Army community life.”31

Organization, Senior Officers, Faculty, and Students.

The Staff College is normally headed by a Commandant in the grade of major
general.32 It is divided into an Administrative Wing and an Instructional Wing,
the latter being headed by the Chief Instructor (CI) in the grade of brigadier. The
Instructional Wing consists of four Divisions of approximately 100 students each.
Each Division is headed by a Senior Instructor (SI), a colonel, who is assisted by
12 to 13 faculty members in the grade of lieutenant colonel. These are known as
the Directing Staff, or DS. Each Division consists of between 8 to 10 Syndicates
of 10 students who are supervised by one DS. The Pakistani students selected
to attend the Staff College are captains/majors with between 8 and 12 years
of service (although lieutenant colonels in specialty branches like engineers
occasionally attend), have graduated from their respective arm/service mid-level
career course, and have passed a competitive examination. Officers possessing
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a Bachelor of Arts/Science or its equivalent are eligible to earn a Masters of
Science (War Studies) degree from the University of Balochistan while attending
the course.33
The Commandant is the central figure at the Staff College, exercising
a profound influence on the faculty, the curriculum, and student behavior.
Nevertheless, he is circumscribed in his ability to institute major changes
because the Staff College falls under the general staff oversight of the Inspector
General of Training and Evaluation (IGT&E), a lieutenant general, who is a
principal staff officer at the Army General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.
Only if the Commandant has been able to forge a special relationship with the
Chief of Army Staff (COAS), as Major General S. Wajahat Hussain was able to
do in the construction of the new Staff College main building in the mid-1970s,
is he able to exercise a relatively free hand.34 For example, an initiative by Major
General Muhammad Safdar in 1982 to create a small cell at the Staff College to
study army doctrine and other conceptual issues was stymied until the COAS
overrode the objections of the IGT&E.35 Another initiative by Major General S.T.H.
Naqvi to completely reorganize the traditional operation of the Staff College,
upgrade its curriculum, and double its output of graduates, initially found favor
with the “progressive” COAS, General Mirza Aslam Beg, but the initiative
foundered on his retirement and it was never raised again.36
Even on routine matters, the Commandant is occasionally overridden by
GHQ. A former Commandant once proposed two relatively non-controversial
initiatives. One was to organize a college seminar involving all past
Commandants to hear their views on the future direction of the Staff College,
and the second was to hire on a contract basis a small number of retired
officers to act as mentors for the Directing Staff and assist them in creating new
exercises and curriculum. Both were summarily vetoed by the IGT&E.37 Asked
why they were rejected, the former Commandant explained that the Pakistan
Army is a highly centralized institution and a pernicious cultural factor often
influences its decision-making process. Any new initiative at almost any level,
he explained, is often considered by more senior officers to be a subtle form of
criticism of either their former stewardship (for example, of an institution like the
Staff College) or their current oversight responsibilities. This reflexive aversion
to criticism, whether it is overt or merely implied, may explain why it took the
Pakistan Army nearly 20 years to authorize an official history of the 1965 war
with India, another 29 years to publish the results, and then to restrict circulation
by making the book available only to Army officers.38 The Army has never
addressed its performance in the disastrous 1971 war with India that resulted in
the loss of East Pakistan and half the country’s population. No official history has
been written, and one probably never will be, because any objective rendering
of that event would have to address the poor decision making of many senior

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Army officers.39 Such cultural factors may also explain why college traditions are
so venerated and why the institution changes so little from year to year and from
decade to decade.
Only in routine areas of curriculum development, administration, faculty
management, facilities management of the Staff College compound, and day-
to-day life of the student body does the Commandant exercise a truly free
hand. Accordingly, Commandants with a sophisticated understanding of both
the power and limitations of their position have occasionally been able to
make major changes that fly under the radar of the IGT&E. One stated that
immediately after his selection as Commandant, he made a minor change to
that year’s competitive examination by inserting a new requirement. Instead
of the standard tactical problems that had been staples of the examination for
several years, bridgehead operations and offensive or defensive operations,
the new requirement was to describe the conduct of a meeting engagement
with the enemy following a unit’s movement to contact. According to him, 25
percent of the candidates taking the examination that year walked out after five
minutes. Because it was a brand new tactical problem and there were no notes
available from earlier courses about the solution—more about this later—the
candidates had no option but to think creatively, thereby increasing the risk of
failure. Even more disconcerting to students and faculty alike that year was
his decision to abolish publication of the “pinks,” the approved Staff College
solution to all tactical exercises and major war games that were distributed
at their conclusion.40 Another innovation in his first year was to redistribute
the hours actually being taught in each part of the curriculum. Because most
students already had extensive operational experience on the Line of Control in
the mountainous Kashmir sector, he reduced the 20 hours of Mountain Warfare
called for in the curriculum to only two, and devoted the “saved” 18 hours to
other parts of the curriculum where he thought the students needed more
instruction. He was able to do this without interference from the IGT&E because
no actual changes were made to the curriculum, only the number of hours being
The students at Quetta are generally considered to be the very best and
brightest of the Pakistan Army, and selection to the Staff College is their first
major step toward upward mobility in the Army. Currently, about 700 cadets
graduate annually from the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in two classes
(two classes begin each year, six months apart). Of these officers, approximately
half will eventually be selected to attend the Staff College. In earlier years, the
selection rate was lower, roughly 35 percent. Expansions to the main Staff
College building over the years have increased the capacity of the college to
approximately 400 students, approximately 360 Pakistani and 40 foreign—or

David O. Smith

Pakistani students considered for selection are grouped according to their
PMA graduating class, or “batch,” and are eligible to take the Staff College
competitive examination every year over a five-year window of eligibility. The
examination consists of a series of written papers that are designed to gauge
a candidate’s professional military knowledge and communication skills. The
test is administered in English. The top finishers in the competitive examination
do not necessarily attend the Staff College. Instead, they may be offered an
opportunity to attend either the British Army, Canadian Army, or Australian Army
staff colleges, which are considered to be equivalent educational institutions
and operate on similar pedagogical principles and techniques inherited from the
British Army. Officers that are not selected to attend the Staff College fall off
the path of upward mobility. They will be trained for repetitive assignments in
intelligence, logistics, administration, or other functional career tracks, and will
likely retire at no higher grade than major or lieutenant colonel. Students at the
Staff College are overwhelmingly from the three combat arms of the Pakistan
Army: infantry, armor, and artillery. Relatively few students from the Army’s
combat support and logistics services are selected, and the number of officers
from the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy has never been more than 1
percent in any year.42
Selection to become a member of the faculty, or Directing Staff, is more
competitive than selection to attend the Staff College. It seems to be based on
a combination of demonstrated high performance in regimental duties, staff
assignments, and earlier good performance as a student, with the latter being
generally ascribed as having the most weight in the process. Prior graduation
from the Staff College is not an absolute prerequisite, and officers that attended
the equivalent British, Canadian, and Australian staff colleges are frequently
selected. Although competition within the faculty is no less intense than among
the student body, the prospects for upward mobility are also more favorable. An
examination of DS serving at the Staff College between 1975 and 1990 showed
a selection rate to the grade of brigadier (roughly equivalent to a U.S. Army
brigadier general) of approximately 89 percent.43

Curriculum and Methods of Instruction

Like every professional military education institution more than a century old,
the Staff College has changed its curriculum over time to accommodate the
evolution of warfare and technological progress. An evaluation of the quality
of that curriculum will be made later in the study. Pakistani students are
required to complete a non-resident Staff College Preparatory Study Package of
approximately 16 weeks duration at their home station. This enables all students,
regardless of their basic arm or service, to arrive at the course with a standard
knowledge base of military subjects considered essential by the Staff College
The Quetta Experience

administration. Once the students arrived in Quetta, at least for the first two
decades of the study, they attended a Technical Orientation Course of four weeks
duration taught by instructors from the College of Electrical and Mechanical
Engineering to ensure that all the officers entering the Staff College were
familiar with the level of technology addressed in the course. As more recent
entering students have become more computer literate, this course may have
been eliminated. But while that course was still being taught, the allied student
officers arrived at the Staff College and participated in a three-week orientation
course to acquaint them with the organization and staff duties of the Pakistan
Army as well as the geography, history, and culture of Pakistan.
The Staff College course is 44 weeks long and is divided into four study
terms of 8 to 11 weeks duration. In the first three decades of the study, the
course was conducted on a calendar year basis, with students arriving in late
January and graduating in December. More lately, the course begins in late June
and finishes in May of the following year. The curriculum consists of three major
subject areas. The first, Professional Studies, is comprised of purely military
subjects like military history, combat and supporting arms doctrines, operations
of war, higher operations of war, specialized warfare, sub-conventional warfare,
joint warfare, training, logistics, operational analysis, command and leadership
management, and staff officer skills. The second area is Developmental Studies,
which consists of strategic studies, writing analytical papers on selected and
assigned topics, attending the annual Staff College seminars whose topics vary
from year to year, and a study tour of Pakistan (there are separate tours for
allied and Pakistani students). The third area is Research Skills, which includes
the writing of an individual research paper and a group research paper. These
papers form the basis for the award of a Master of Science degree in the Art and
Science of Warfare by the University of Balochistan.44
Subjects taught at the Staff College use the basic teaching methodology
inherited from the British Army and still in use in many Commonwealth
countries. For Americans, this is a major change from the methods of instruction
they are used to in U.S. Army schools which rely primarily on the “teach,
practice, master” style of pedagogy. The most common instructional techniques
at the Staff College are the tutorial discussion (TD) and tutorial exercise (TE) in
which the syndicate DS assigns readings and facilitates discussion among the
students who are expected to have mastered the information through self-study
at home or in small group assignments referred to as “sub-syndicate work.”
These are supplemented by formal group lectures (L) in the main auditorium and
model discussions (MD) and map exercises (ME) in one of four model rooms,
so named because the central feature of each room is a very large “sand box”
for modeling terrain. DS not assigned to individual syndicates are responsible for
preparing and leading these discussions and exercises. Formerly a major part of

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the course, outdoor exercises (OE) that used to be conducted in large training
areas north and west of Quetta have been sharply curtailed in recent years due
to the deteriorating security environment in the province of Balochistan, of which
Quetta is the capital city and a prime target for terrorist attacks. A normal class
day is six to seven hours, but the Staff College expects students to spend at
least four hours each night on self-study or group work. The normal work week
is six days, five in classes and one day each weekend scheduled for individual
Instruction at the Staff College is supplemented throughout the year by
large numbers of guest speakers from diverse backgrounds. These include a
mix of senior leaders from the three services of the Pakistan armed forces,
civilian government officials, academicians, civilian subject matter experts, and
occasionally visiting foreign military and government officials. Each year, the
Staff College also conducts seminars on selected topics of interest with panels
composed of the same mixture of persons mentioned above.45

Evaluation of Students

The Staff College has evolved a comprehensive method of evaluation that
includes both faculty and student inputs. Every syndicate consists of eight or
nine Pakistani students and one or two allied students. After each term, the
syndicate rosters are “shuffled” so that a student never has the same DS twice,
and rarely will he have more than one or two Pakistani students twice in a
syndicate during the year. Thus, each student receives four separate evaluations
by four different syndicate DS during the year. There is also a peer rating done
each term in which students are asked to rank in order on a scale from 1 to 10
each of his fellow students in three specific areas: ability as a leader, ability as
a team member, and capacity as a friend. Each student also receives a mid-
course evaluation and a final evaluation by the division Senior Instructor. The
Staff College year includes five or six major war games, each with a different
operational focus and a different geographic setting. Students are assigned to
fill various command, staff, and controller positions where their performance is
observed by their syndicate DS as well as several non-syndicate DS members
who are the exercise “sponsors.” The non-syndicate DS submit inputs to the
student final evaluations, as does the Chief Instructor and Commandant, both of
whom carefully observe the exercises and are periodically briefed by students
holding the senior exercise appointments.
When all of these inputs are collated and weighed, the students are
counseled and given suggestions about how to improve their performance prior
to the mid-course break. After the final course evaluation, they will be awarded
one of five possible grades: B+ (10-15 percent), high B (40 percent), B (35
percent), B low (10 percent), and C (1 percent). These grades become the basis
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for the Staff College recommendation to the Military Secretary, the senior officer
in GHQ responsible for personnel matters, for the student’s next posting. The
postings are announced at the end of the course by the Military Secretary in a
presentation made to the Pakistan Army students only. No allied students are
allowed to hear the results although most subsequently learn informally where
their classmates will be assigned. The most prestigious assignment and desired
posting is to become a brigade major of an infantry or armor brigade.46 Typically,
about half of the students receiving a B+ grade immediately are assigned to
this position after graduation, with the remaining half being selected to attend a
foreign military staff college or deferred for a few months to complete required
periods of regimental service. Another reason the Pakistani students strive
for the B+ grade is that it automatically adds four percentage points to an
individual’s Officer Efficiency Index, a running average of his previous fitness
reports. Students earning a High B or a B get two percentage point increases
while anything lower merits nothing. Thus, nearly every Pakistani student views
his year at the Staff College as the single most important event in his military
career up to that point.47

David O. Smith


Senior Officers

The Students described a variety of interactions with Commandants and Chief
Instructors over the years covered in the study. Some were remote figures that
rarely interacted with the students, others were friendly and made an effort to
reach out socially and professionally, and most fell somewhere in the middle.
The roles of the Commandant and the Chief Instructor tended to vary with the
personalities of the officers, with one almost always playing the role of “good
cop” at the Staff College and the other playing the role of “bad cop.” One or
both invariably would “sum up” the key lessons learned from guest speakers
and major exercises. One Commandant was openly critical of the Pakistan
Army or the officer corps in the presence of a Student. During his first few
days at Quetta, the 2006 Student reported that the Commandant showed up
at his residence one day, unannounced and alone, to welcome him to the Staff
College, tell him about the course, and provide some background information
about the college and the Pakistan Army. The Student was surprised to hear
him make several critical statements about the Army, for example, that most
of the Army’s corps commanders could not be trusted to put their professional
integrity ahead of their desire for monetary gain. Power and greed, he continued,
were more important to them than Pakistan’s national interest. Later when the
course was in session, he openly chastised the Pakistani students for being too
narrow-minded and overly conservative in their thinking. He encouraged them to
listen to the western officers and try to understand their perspective on regional
issues. Because he had commanded UN peacekeeping troops in Sierra Leone
and later was selected by the UN Secretary-General as his military advisor on
peacekeeping operations (although he never served in that position because of
another assignment), he had dealt extensively with armies from many nations
and expected the students at the Staff College to expand their thinking about
them as well.48

The Quetta Experience

The Directing Staff (DS)

Nearly every Student considered the Staff College faculty as a group to be
highly competent and professional. A few were effusive in their praise. The
1977 Student thought they were “the most professional group of officers I’ve
ever served with, including U.S. officers,” noting that they read voraciously and
were familiar with United States, British, and Soviet military doctrines as well
as their own.49 Even the 1980 Student, who was highly critical of nearly every
aspect of the Staff College, wrote, “The one strong point of the Staff College is
the quality of instruction by the DS. The LTCs [lieutenant colonels] are extremely
professional and are the best I’ve seen anywhere.”50 This mostly positive attitude
about the DS has tended to diminish in more recent classes, perhaps reflecting
the expansion of the Staff College in the last decade. The 2011-2012 Student A’s
second term DS expressed personal opinions and had a manner of instruction
that was troubling both to him and to his Pakistani classmates. He was “a
bearded guy who essentially preached religion for two and a half months.”
Ironically, his older brother was a student that year at the U.S. Army War College.
The Pakistani students refused to “call him out,” protesting plaintively, “What
can we do? He’s our instructor.”51 The 2013-2014 Student was not as critical, but
considered the DS to “run the gamut,” and being no more professional than any
randomly selected group of U.S. Army lieutenant colonels.52
A few of the DS, but nowhere near a majority, were progressive in their
thinking and open to creative solutions that occasionally differed from the
approved Staff College solution. The 1989 Student thought about half of the DS,
mostly those that had studied at foreign military courses, were amenable to “out
of the box” solutions to the assigned problems. The rest were more “dogmatic”
and did not deviate from the Staff College solution. Even those that were more
accommodating had to be very careful, he continued, because the division
Senior Instructor might “crack the whip on them.” Whatever their performance
in the past, it was just as important for the DS to perform well in the eyes of
the senior officers at the Staff College as it was for their students if they wished
to be promoted further. Many acted as if they perceived “substantial risk” in
deviating from the approved solution.53 The 2010-2011 Student A was one of
several Students noting that DS that had attended a foreign staff college were
more open-minded than their colleagues that had not. It didn’t seem to matter
whether the course was American, British, German, or Syrian, DS lacking such
international experience were less cosmopolitan and much more conventional in
their thinking.
On a day-to-day basis, the DS were in absolute control of their syndicate
rooms, and several Students mentioned examples of abuse or idiosyncratic
behavior. The 2004 Student thought many DS treated their students like “serfs

David O. Smith

in their own little fiefdoms where they were the lords of the manor.”54 The
2012-2013 Student A estimated that of the twelve DS in his division, three
were “despised” for their abusive teaching style, and considered by allied
and Pakistani students alike to be “cocky and arrogant.” They rarely coached
or mentored their students, preferring instead to “crush” those who failed to
meet their expectations or follow accepted military doctrine. The other nine
DS in the division took a less combative approach, preferring instead to teach
and mentor their students to construct a solid foundation of knowledge they
could build on later in the course and in future military assignments.55 The 2002
Student related an anecdote about an allied officer’s DS who offered the advice
that when he beat his wife he should do so gently because women were more
fragile than men. Another DS confided to the Lebanese student that the Muslims
in Lebanon should “get rid of the 50 percent of the Lebanese population that
were Christians,” not realizing (or perhaps not caring) that the Lebanese student
was a Christian. He summed up the DS as a group in a statement with which
many other Students probably would have agreed: “Most [of the DS] were good,
but some were abhorrent; some were superb, and most were capable and
competent tactically… My experience was that instructors who studied in the
West were much more open and more prone to critical thought.”56

Demographics of Pakistani Students

The overall ethnic composition of Pakistan is 44.68 percent Punjabi, 15.42
percent Pathan (Pashtun), 14.1 percent Sindhi, 8.38 percent Saraiki (normally
included with the Punjabi group), 7.57 percent Muhajir (Urdu-speaking groups
formally living in India), 3.57 percent Balochi, and 6.28 percent Other.57 Every
Student was asked to comment on the ethnicity of his Pakistani classmates,
but none could offer any specific data other than the observation that a large
majority seemed to be Punjabi and that sizable minorities were Pathan (Pashtun)
and “from Karachi,” the provincial capital of Sindh. They rarely came into contact
with more than one or two Sindhi or Baloch officers. Only the 2001 and 2013-
2014 Students mentioned students from the Northern Areas (now the province
of Gilgit-Baltistan), with the former noting they were often the butt of syndicate
room humor because this region was considered a “backwoods area” of the
country.58 Although Pakistani students from Karachi might be thought to be
Sindhi, demographic information from the 1998 Pakistan census suggests this is
often not the case because the city is largely composed of Muhajirs (48 percent)
with many other linguistic groups represented as well: Punjabi (13.94 percent);
Sindhi (7.22); Pashto (11.42); Balochi (4.34); Saraiki (2.11); and Others (12.4).59
Because the Pakistan Army is frequently portrayed in both domestic and
foreign media as a “Punjab-dominated Army,”60 implying that officers and soldiers
of other ethnicities are less favored, the ethnic composition of the officer corps
The Quetta Experience

is another area of sensitivity about which the Army is reluctant to provide very
much information. This relative silence about the Army’s ethnic composition
was broken in 2007 when the Inter-Services Public Relations directorate
released a pamphlet that included a brief paragraph disclosing the Army’s ethnic
composition in 2001 and 2007, and its targets for 2011.61 This information is given

Ethnicity (percent) 2001 2007 2011 Target

Punjabi 71.06 57.39 54.50
Pathan (Pashtun) 13.65 14.18 14.50
Sindhi 15.00 15.40 17.00
Baloch no figures 3.20 4.00
Kashmiri/Northern Areas no figures 9.11 9.00
Minorities 0.29 0.72 1.00

The target figures for 2011, if they were actually met, would bring the Army’s
ethnic composition roughly into line with the country’s overall demographics,
although no further information on this subject has as yet been disclosed.
Despite this ISPR data for the Army as a whole, the ethnic composition
of the officer corps remains a mystery. The only work on officer corps
demographics has been done by C. Christine Fair and Shuja Nawaz. The latter
is a U.S.-based Pakistani scholar and brother of a deceased Chief of Army
Staff, who obtained information from GHQ on officer intake at the Pakistan
Military Academy over several decades. The authors freely admit that their
data sheds little light on officer corps ethnicity because it identifies only the
specific districts in Pakistan from which officers entered the service.62 Based
on their data, Punjab provided slightly less than 60 percent of new officers in
2005, roughly in line with its 56 percent share of the population counted in the
1998 census; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly Northwest Frontier Province) was
overrepresented with 22 percent of the intake while comprising 13 percent
of the overall population; Sindh was underrepresented with 10 percent of the
intake for 22 percent of the overall population; and Balochistan had 5 percent
of the intake and 5 percent of the overall population. The most notable finding
is that the officer intake from Punjab is significantly decreased from an average
annual percentage in the 1970s of 80 percent and in the 1980s of 70 percent.
This decrease was offset by a corresponding increase in the number of officers
entering from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Azad Kashmir, and the Northern
Areas (now the province of Gilgit-Baltistan). 63
Whatever the precise figures, most of the Students surveyed would probably
agree that roughly 90 percent of Pakistani students at the Staff College were

David O. Smith

Punjabis and Pathans (the preferred word in Pakistan for Pashtuns), probably in a
rough approximation of 65 to 70 percent and 20 to 25 percent respectively, with
the remaining 10 percent being comprised mostly of Muhajirs with extremely
small numbers of Balochis, Sindhis, or Kashmiris. It is illustrative to consider
that of the 13 Commanders-in-Chief or Chiefs of Army Staff of the Pakistan
Army since 1951 (when the last British Commander-in-Chief departed), five
were Punjabis, five were Pathans, two were Muhajirs, and one was an Afghan
Hazara. This is hardly the ethnic composition to be expected in a putative
“Punjab-dominated Army.” Yet despite what must surely be credited as a sincere
attempt to change the Army’s ethnic composition to become more reflective
of the general ethnic composition of the nation, it is clear that officers from
non-traditional recruiting districts, the “backward areas” as they are normally
described in Pakistan, rarely finish in the top 10 percent at the Staff College,
and are heavily underrepresented in the senior ranks of the Army. Asked if the
relative absence of such officers in senior ranks might be a structural form of
ethnic discrimination, a retired senior officer who had served in the office of
the Military Secretary at GHQ stated that promotion boards had been known to
promote ethnic minority officers if they were “reasonably close” to the cutoff
point for the promotion in question. This practice, a form of affirmative action
for officers from non-traditional recruiting areas, is done very selectively, he
emphasized.64 Nevertheless, this disclosure reinforces the statement made
earlier that ethnicity remains a very sensitive subject in the officer corps.
Religion is just as sensitive as ethnicity, perhaps more so. Statistics about
religious affiliations in Pakistan were not compiled in the 1998 census. The
CIA’s World Factbook states that Pakistan is 96.4 percent Muslim, but provides
only ranges for Sunni and Shia affiliation, 85-90 percent and 10-15 percent
respectively, and 3.6 percent Hindu and Christian.65 Nor a single Student
observed any sectarian friction in the entire study period. Upward mobility in the
Pakistan Army for non-Muslims was limited until 1993 when the first Christian
officer was promoted to major general, and a classmate of the 1982 Student, a
Parsi, achieved that rank a few years later.

Social Class Composition

The most common Student response to the question about social class
composition was that a large number of Staff College students were from a
self-described “military family” or a “military background.” As with ethnicity,
there was no specific data provided other than estimates ranging from as high
as 80 percent from one Student to as low as 20 percent from others, with the
most common estimate being in the range of 33 to 50 percent.66 For more
recent Staff College classes, this would mean that as many as 180 students in
an entering class of 360 came from a military background. This is absurdly high
The Quetta Experience

since an examination of five college yearbooks showed that the highest number
of Pakistani students whose fathers also attended the Staff College was 15.67
Doubling that number to account for students whose fathers might be Junior
Commissioned Officers (JCOs) or enlisted soldiers, the highest reasonable figure
should be approximately 30. One plausible explanation for the higher Student
estimates might be that the Pakistani students were broadly interpreting what
constituted a military family background, perhaps including cousins, uncles,
grandparents, or other members of their extended family. Another possible
explanation may be that Pakistani students whose fathers had served in the
army at times when U.S.-Pakistanis relations were good, or those who attended
courses in the United States, actively sought out the Students to describe those
experiences, skewing their perception of the actual numbers. Whatever their
actual numbers in any given class, Pakistani students with a military background
are extremely significant in a way that will be described in a section called
Common Characteristics of Top Performers.
Most Students estimated that the largest percentage of their Pakistani
classmates came from middle class or lower middle class backgrounds with
relatively few coming from either the traditional elite class or the lower classes.
But once again, they could offer no specific data other than to note that very
few of their classmates drove expensive automobiles. The 2008-2009 Student
explained that “wealthy Pakistanis these days don’t tend to send their sons to
the Army,” and described his classmates as being of mostly lower middle class
origin. Most had cars, but these were small Suzuki Mehrans. As he further
explained, “You could tell if an officer had more wealth or had been on a UN
assignment if he drove a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla.” The relatively few
wealthy officers drove sport utility vehicles like the Mitsubishi Pajero.68
Many students seemed to have entered the Pakistan Military Academy from
“cadet colleges,” military preparatory schools that prepare and send a large
number of their graduates into the Army. The two most commonly mentioned
were the prestigious Cadet College at Hasan Abdul, whose website lists 14
lieutenant generals and one four-star general who served in the Army in the last
15 years.69 Another, the Military College at Jhelum, boasts as alumni the recently
retired Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, 66 general officers, more than
100 brigadiers, and over 2000 colonels, as well as former chiefs from all three
military services and a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.70
A further social distinction was noted by two Students. The 2003 Student
described what he characterized as two well-defined groups in his course, the
“tonys,” who spoke good English, were well educated, and well-traveled, and
the “puttahs,” from a Punjabi word referring to a backward man from a Punjabi
town like Gujranwala who had only a village education. These students were
less well educated and spoke and wrote comparatively poor English. This social

David O. Smith

division was lampooned in a humorous article published in the 2010-2011 college
yearbook.71 In the article, a student performing well at the Staff College is known
as a “tony” (British slang for polished) and his work is invariably laga hua, or
perfectly done. A student performing poorly is referred to as a sheeda, an Urdu
word loosely translated as “struggling.” He is always puja hua, or “praying”
to get by.72 In this version, the distinction is not based on social class, but on
demonstrated English skills. The distinction is based on the quality of education a
student received in his early years, the likeliest factor influencing the mastery of
English in Pakistan.

Religious Influences

Nothing about the Pakistan Army provokes as much interest in the U.S.
intelligence and policy communities as the question of whether or not it is
becoming more “Islamic,” and therefore, more susceptible to the influence of
the radical extremist groups proliferating in Pakistan. Many Pakistanis and several
western observers place most of the blame for this phenomenon on a former
Chief of Army Staff, General Muhammad Zia ul Haq, Pakistan’s military ruler
for 11 years following his 1977 coup against the government of Prime Minister
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Shuja Nawaz notes that Zia tried hard to change the Army’s
secular ethos and make religion a part of day-to-day activities. He changed the
Army motto from Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s73 “Unity, Faith, and Discipline” to
“Iman, Taqwa, Jihad fi sabeelillah (Faith, Obedience to God, and Struggle in the
path of Allah).” He also elevated the status of the clergy ministering to Army
units and allowed members of the fundamentalist proselytizing group, Tabliqi
Jamaat, to preach at the Pakistan Military Academy.74 In September 1995, a
plot to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff and his principal staff officers at
a conference in Rawalpindi as the first step to overthrowing the government
and establishing an Islamic Caliphate was uncovered by the Army’s Military
Intelligence Directorate. The abortive coup was led by a serving major general
in the Army, Zaheer ul Islam Abbasi, and involved 40 other military personnel.75
Abbasi and his conspirators were court-martialed, and the Army quickly instituted
a series of procedures to insure the reliability of the officer corps in the future.76
Some recent scholarship and commentary has suggested that the
officer corps has largely been cleansed of these radical influences, though
doubts persist in other quarters. The demographic research of Fair and Nawaz
indicates that officer recruitment has risen in the more liberal districts of
Pakistan, suggesting that the officer corps actually might be more liberal than
the population as a whole.77 One Pakistani observer also sees an emerging
synthesis between the former secular officer corps that was inherited from the
British and the religious officers encouraged by General Zia. This new kind of
officer corps is continuing the secular, professional tradition, but includes officers
The Quetta Experience

with a mixture of religious and secular beliefs: “These officers on the one hand,
know fully well how to exploit and manipulate religious laws to their benefit
and on the other hand they know how to deal with the secular civil society of
Pakistan and they have no strict allegiance with any of the party.”78 Shortly after
the U.S. raid in Abbottabad in May 2011 that resulted in the death of Usama
bin Laden, the Pakistan Army arrested several officers thought to have links
with Hizb at-Tahrir (Party of Liberation), an international pan-Islamic political
organization with the goal of unifying all Muslim countries into a single Islamic
state, or Caliphate, ruled by Islamic law. Following a court-martial at General
Headquarters in Rawalpindi, five officers, a brigadier and four majors, were
sentenced to various periods of rigorous imprisonment for inciting other officers
to mutiny, including the commander of the elite 111 Brigade, the only regular
Army unit stationed near the capital of Islamabad and a key unit in Pakistan’s last
two military coups.79
Nearly every Student interviewed considered the overwhelming number
of their Pakistani classmates to be pious Muslims that were moderate in
their beliefs. Many Pakistani students told them of their contempt for more
religiously conservative classmates they considered to be out of the mainstream
of Pakistani society. These students typically avoided confrontations about
religion, however, preferring instead to ignore their opinions in class and isolate
them socially. Nevertheless, several Students reported disturbing incidents
that suggest the Army’s post-1995 efforts to marginalize officers thought to
be susceptible to radical influences may not have entirely succeeded. Several
Students in the 1980s noted a clear “disconnect” between Zia’s efforts to
encourage the practice of Islam in the Army and the more moderate behavior
of Pakistani students at the Staff College. The 1985 Student estimated that 5
percent of the students drank alcohol. He once attended a social function where
pork was served, and clearly marked as such, and said a few Pakistani students
pointedly put it on their plates and ate it openly.80 In contrast, the 1989 Student
thought Islamization was “taking hold” at the Staff College in the 11th year of
Zia’s military regime. He described a major change in attitudes about religion
between 1982, when he led a U.S. Army mobile training team at the Artillery
school in Nowshera, and the situation he found in 1989. In 1982, there were
many officers that had experienced alcohol in the messes, attended dances with
their wives, and engaged in other secular traditions in the Army. Seven years
later, he found younger officers in general to be much more observant than their
counterparts of seven years earlier. He was unsure of their sincerity, and opined
that the best students at the Staff College merely “paid proper deference” to
religion. The more zealous officers were weaker students using religion as “a
cloak of invisibility” to hide their professional deficiencies.81 Four years later, the
1993 Student described the atmosphere of the college:

David O. Smith

There was always a guy in the classroom who acted like a religious
commissar. The others knew who he was and they would all compete
to be more Islamic than him. It was so bad that at the end of the
class, some of my team members would ask me, “Can you believe
[he said] that?” There were questions raised in class like if you saw
someone not going to Mosque what would you do? And they would
compete to see who could give the harshest punishment. Some
students ascribed this emphasis on religion to General Zia and pointed
out that Pakistan used to be a more moderate Islamic country than
it had now become. But other classmates would meet privately to
discuss the Quran, “and they’d tell everyone how great Islam was.”
Because the American student in 1992 had converted to Islam,
“they thought they could push that line [to get future converts].82

Other Students considered that concern about Islamization at the Staff
College was exaggerated. The 1996 Student thought most Pakistani students
looked down on classmates that were “overly religious,” often referring to them
derisively as “the bearded ones.”83 There was no outright disrespect shown to
them in the syndicate rooms, he said, but the majority of their peers did little
socializing with them. The more conservative students often used jargon like
“Christian crusaders” when referring to NATO and ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
The Student was surprised to be befriended by a “bearded one,” and even
more surprised to be told at the end of the course that he—a Greek Orthodox
Christian—acted like “a better Muslim” than most of his Pakistani classmates.
This reaction from a pious student must have been caused by the behavior of
the majority of his Pakistani classmates that he saw as less observant. The
Student also thought religious observation at the Staff College was mostly pro
forma. Although each day began with a prayer in Arabic over the closed-circuit
television system, at the nightly sub-syndicate meetings, a favorite program on
satellite TV was Baywatch, an American series noted for its numerous bikini-clad
starlets. Many of his classmates opined that Pakistan ought to adopt the same
view of Islam that was in style in Turkey, officially respectful with no coercion
about individual behavior. An area near one of the model rooms was available for
the daily prayers, but rarely did he see more than 10 or 12 students using it. In
late 1995, just before his arrival in Pakistan, the abortive coup attempt of Major
General Abbasi occurred, but the event was never spoken of in his presence
the entire year.84 The 1997 Student thought “the bearded chaps” in his class
were viewed by most DS as a “cancer that needed to be controlled,” but noted
a different dynamic in play among Pakistani students. They became very guarded
whenever the subject of religion arose. It was as if they feared something they

The Quetta Experience

might say on the subject would end up in an intelligence file. As a result, they
pointedly supported Islamic values whenever they were in a group because
they thought it was important to support what might still be the Army’s party
line.85 The 2003 Student, himself a Muslim, regularly went to the Staff College
mosque. He observed that it was rarely full. He considered only 15 or 20 percent
of his Pakistani classmates to be “very religious” and noted that many of these
avoided him at the beginning of the course, although they became more relaxed
as the year progressed.86
Of more concern than student behavior was the behavior of the DS,
virtually all of whom had already passed the various “filters” used in the Army
to vet officers for future promotion to the ranks of brigadier and higher. The
1997 Student recalled a tactical discussion in the college’s main model room
in which a DS who was a “bearded chap” made a statement to the effect of,
“I don’t know why we’re doing this [being overly concerned with the details of
tactics] because if we’re just good Muslims everything will fall into place and
we will always be successful.” The Commandant was in the room and after
this statement was made, he stood up, fixed him with an icy stare, and asked
pointedly, “Are you finished? If so, let’s get back to the tactical discussion.” The
most egregious example of a DS who was so overtly religious that it interfered
with the Staff College mission was reported by the 2010-2011 Student A. His
second term DS was “a bearded guy who essentially preached religion for
two and a half months.” Typical of his attitude were comments that God had
ordained that Pakistan would eventually defeat India and that the November
2011 Salala border incident in which 24 Pakistani soldiers had been killed was
“the first shot in a future war with the United States.” This DS rarely spent more
than a few minutes each hour discussing the day’s assignment or other topics
in the official curriculum and the Student thought one reason he spent more
time discussing religion than the assigned topics was to conceal his “tactical
weakness.” Ironically, his brother, a brigadier, was a student that year at the U.S.
Army War College. When he asked his Pakistani classmates why they refused to
“call him out” for his extremist views, they protested, “What can we do? He›s
our instructor.”87 More typical of DS attitudes, however, was the account by the
2012-2013 Student B of a discussion about the role of religion in the Army. His
DS, the son of a retired lieutenant general, pointed to his uniform breast pocket
and asked the class rhetorically what was on the embroidered patch. It read “Pak
Army,” he said, not the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan Army.” He then told the
students always to make a clear distinction between their private religious beliefs
and their professional military responsibilities.88
The 2013-2014 Student opined that Islam is becoming an institutional norm
in the Pakistan Army. He thought Staff College students strove to outdo each
other in their knowledge of the Quran, the history of Islam, and making religious

David O. Smith

observations about tactical exercises, for example, that “righteousness of cause”
is a combat multiplier. This did not mean that the office corps was necessarily
becoming more radicalized, but that the Pakistan Army was slowly being
overwhelmed by a growing countrywide religious dynamic. This trend did not
apply to the senior officers, and he noted that the Commandant once interrupted
a tactical discussion where religious references were made and told the students
to confine their comments to tactical matters.89
Undoubtedly, the most disturbing statement about religion observed by
any Student occurred in 2006 during the allied student tour of Lahore. During
a session with the Commander of 4 Corps, one of the most prestigious
commands in the Pakistan Army, that officer, a lieutenant general, chose to
speak at length about the “Glory of the Islamic Past, Present, and Future.” He
mentioned there were both “internal” and “external” jihads being fought in
Afghanistan, and ended the talk by saying good Muslims needed to support
the groups fighting the external jihad (which apparently included Al Qaeda). The
western allied students were shocked by his comment. One Pakistani student
admitted to them later that the general had certainly said it, but probably didn’t
mean it the way it came out. He also admitted, “It was a shock to most of us,
too.” No clarification was made afterward about the remarks.90

Cheating Versus Creative Thinking

With only two exceptions, every Student highlighted the ubiquity of cheating
at the Staff College. This behavior spanned almost the entire 37 year period
of the study and seemed to be so pervasive that it must be considered part
of the institution’s culture. Only the 1977 and 1982 Students saw no evidence
of it. The 1977 course, however, was an “outlier” in the evolution of the Staff
Course. A newly constructed Staff College classroom building that replaced the
1905 original was dedicated that year, and as part of the “new start” the entire
curriculum and many former policies were changed. One new policy was that
assigned homework was required to be completed in the new building before
departing for the day. As a result, the 1977 Student never observed a single
instance of cheating. The daily rhythm of the college changed drastically by
the early 1980s. Most assigned work was performed in small “sub-syndicate
groups,” three in every 10-man syndicate, at one of the students’ homes in the
evening. Nevertheless, the 1982 Student never observed a single instance of any
student using chappa, previous solutions to Staff College exercises and other
assignments that were a common feature of student life in later years.91 Every
Student interviewed for this project considered the use of chappa to be outright
cheating, and all of them were appalled by it. Usually chappa was used in private
homes during sub-syndicate work, but the 1989 Student described its use as
so prevalent that it even occurred in the main building during examinations and
The Quetta Experience

individual exercises. Whenever a DS left the room (there was an honor code
in place at the Staff College that year), chappa was immediately pulled from
briefcases and shared openly, cigarettes were lit (in a supposedly non-smoking
environment), and conversation flowed freely. On one of these occasions, the
Student picked up his study materials and went to the library to find a quiet place
to do his assignment. A DS who was reading in the library inquired why he was
not in his syndicate room doing the assignment. There was a very awkward
silence when he explained why he had left the room.92 Rarely were students
punished for cheating, although the 1997 Student related an incident in which his
DS left the syndicate room during an examination and returned to find students
openly sharing chappa. This DS had just returned from a tour of UN duty and
took great umbrage at such an open exhibition of cheating. He marched the two
students caught sharing it straight to the Commandant’s office where they were
summarily removed from the course. The news “absolutely rippled” through the
student body for a time, he recalled, but it didn’t put a stop to the practice.93
Some Commandants tried to change the chappa culture. Without directly
addressing the issue of cheating, when Major General S.T.H. Naqvi become
Commandant in July 1990 he tried to create an “environment of intellectual
honesty, intellectual liberty, intellectual dynamism, and intellectual stamina in the
College, to enable the faculty… and students…to question the validity of present
thought and practice.”94 The 1990 Student A described what happened next:

After Naqvi arrived, The Student was appointed as a division
operations officer in a major exercise. Each of the college’s three
academic divisions had been organized into an infantry division
staff and assigned to work on the same problem concurrently.
Their solutions would then be briefed to the new Commandant.
The Student convinced the Pakistani student assigned as the
commanding general in his group to accept his recommendation for
an audacious flanking attack by an ad hoc task force of armor and
mechanized infantry units. When this was briefed to the DS sponsor,
this officer pointed out several flaws in the plan and “guided” the
student division commander toward the more conventional Staff
College solution, a frontal attack on the enemy position. When
Naqvi was briefed, all three division staffs had arrived at the identical
solution. He was disappointed there had been no original thinking in
any of the solutions, saying he was especially disappointed with the
Student’s group because he had appointed an allied officer to be the
operations officer precisely to inject new thinking into the problem.
When Naqvi asked him to explain why he had not done so, the Student
truthfully told him about the role of the DS in changing their original

David O. Smith

solution. The Commandant immediately ended the session and
called the DS to his office. Later he was removed from the faculty.95

Major General Ali Kuli Khan, the Commandant from 1992 to 1993, also
confronted the issue of cheating at the beginning of his tenure:

I had prior knowledge that students coming for the course had a
strong misconception that the use of old solutions, popularly known
as “booty,” would help them to do well. Starting from my Opening
Address, till the end of the Course, I repeatedly tried to remove this
false impression and emphasized the advantages of originality. I also
informed them how easily the faculty identified such culprits and
accordingly warned them that transgressions would result in automatic
and certain expulsion. I often wonder whether my pleadings had
any real effect. Since no case of unfair practices surfaced during my
tenure, I revel in the belief that probably the message got through.96

Perhaps it didn’t get to the Commandant’s desk, but the 1993 Student
related an incident that occurred that year during a tutorial exercise involving
the use of armor. Assigned as the group leader, he developed a solution that
incorporated lessons from the 1991 Gulf War where he had commanded an
armor company. He encountered stiff resistance from his classmates because
his solution did not conform to the chappa. After the students left his residence,
he recalled, “They apparently panicked, met again without me, and changed
everything for the morning briefing.” His DS, realizing what had happened,
ignored their solution and asked the Student to explain his original plan to the
The 2008-2009 Student thought the tension between creative thinking
and the use of past solutions was rooted in Pakistani cultural and educational
practices that he thought explained how many things actually worked not only in
Pakistani society, but at the Staff College. In Pakistan, he explained, everyone’s
place in the social hierarchy is precisely defined and well understood. One
was obligated to do certain things for the family and larger kinship group. One
manifestation of this cultural norm at the Staff College was that every Pakistani
student knew the precise graduation order of everyone in his Pakistan Military
Academy “batch” [graduating class], and those in senior or junior “batches.”
They invariably referred to more senior “batchmates” as “Sir.” Even greater
deference was shown to the DS and senior officers. Because of their greater
seniority in the Army, he thought their opinions on anything simply could not be
openly questioned by more junior Pakistani officers. Thus, creative thinking was
subtly discouraged in practice even as it was acknowledged as being desirable

The Quetta Experience

by the more cosmopolitan senior officers and DS. This insight was the key to
understanding why chappa was so prized. To disagree with a Staff College-
approved solution was like disagreeing with the opinions of a DS or a senior
officer. It was more than just a social gaffe; it actually skirted the boundaries
of disloyalty to the Army. Anyone who did so made others visibly nervous and
uncomfortable. The Student described most learning at the Staff College as
“autodidactic” and considered his classmates as poorly educated compared
to the Western military officers. Their only higher education was the two-year
PMA course that amounted to little more than a junior college education.98 Their
experiences at PMA prepared them well for the Army, but not very well for
higher learning and creative thinking. He thought most of his classmates were
especially weak on the importance of economics in a globalized world and on
principles of democratic governance like freedom of the press and government
transparency, although he admitted that students that had attended foreign
military courses had a much better grasp of these subjects and were more open-
minded on other issues.99
The notion that cheating is ascribed as a cultural trait in Pakistan may be
offensive to some readers, but whether it is rooted in the national culture or
the school’s institutional culture, the importance of finding the Staff College
solution occasionally has been highlighted even by the Army’s senior officers. In
describing his experience at the Staff College in 1945 when the institution was
still controlled by the British Indian Army, Lieutenant General (ret) M. Attiqur
Rahman, a former corps commander in Lahore and Military Governor of West
Pakistan and Punjab, remembered, “Another revealing aspect was that the British
officers did not worry about their gradings too much and seldom tried to find out
the Directing Staff solutions beforehand.”100 Presumably the Indian students did
A more likely explanation for cheating, rather than blaming it on Pakistani
culture, is the Staff College evaluation system that was described earlier.
Many Students perceived it to be the major determinant for the behavior they
observed. The 2008-2009 Student concluded that “the Staff College is not
primarily a training institution, but a selection (for higher rank) institution that
happens to conduct training.” Its true purpose is to select the officers in each
class with the most potential for promotion and higher command. “The smarter
students understand this and act accordingly,” he explained, “the dumber ones
realize only that it is an important year for them in terms of their next assignment
and prospects for promotion.”101 One Commandant attempted to rectify the
perception of many students that evaluation for future potential was the primary
mission of the college. His philosophy, he explained to the course, was that
the Army had already identified its top performers by sending them to the Staff
College. His role, therefore, was not to second-guess the Army, but instead to

David O. Smith

try to help them gain a broader perspective about their profession and provide
tools to help them succeed in more responsible positions in the future. To do
so, he increased the number and diversity of viewpoints of guest speakers
while reducing the amount of class time devoted to the minutiae associated
with routine staff duties.102 While the latter two initiatives have become ingrained
in the curriculum, his philosophy did not outlast his tenure. The 2001 Student
thought that the Staff College senior officers and DS (and likely the Pakistani
students) knew the general order of merit of the students in the course before
they even arrived in Quetta. He considered the true purpose of the course was
simply to validate this informal rank ordering.103
Because most Pakistani students realized that the Staff College was
a yearlong evaluation period, and because so much was at stake for them
professionally, “They opted for the safest possible solution and that was always
the chappa.”104 According to the 2004 Student, even the “star students” deferred
to it because it had been vetted and approved by the Staff College faculty.
To come up with a radically different plan from what had been approved was
perceived as taking a major career risk. Trying to get the Pakistani students to go
along with an original solution was “like running up a steep hill”—no one saw
any advantage in doing it and many disadvantages in trying it. As one Pakistani
student explained, “If you go out on a limb and the DS doesn’t like it, you are
taking a big risk on your final evaluation.”105 Still others were perplexed by the
mixed messages coming from the faculty, with some DS challenging them to
think creatively and others criticizing them for straying too far from the approved
solution. The 2002 Student concluded, “Simply as a matter of practicality, nothing
was to be gained by going against the grain of conventional thinking.”106
The likeliest explanation for why the use of chappa and other forms of
cheating have been tolerated for so long may be the simplest: It is immaterial
to the evaluation of student potential. Every DS had once been a student at
the Staff College. Because he had already seen the practice in every form
imaginable, and easily realized which students were using it and which ones
didn’t need to rely on it, only when a case was so egregious that it couldn’t be
ignored as a matter of military discipline did a student need be punished for
its use. Instead, the punishment would be meted out in the final evaluation of
the student’s potential for promotion and recommended next assignment. For
this reason, many Students eventually concluded that “chappa was really no
big deal” because there were so many course requirements where previous
solutions were not available or would be of little use. For example, when
performing in major exercises, briefing senior officers, or completing an assigned
research project, “No one could fool the DS for very long about their ability, and
everyone’s true worth would be revealed eventually. Good students didn’t need
the chappa to succeed; bad students who used it could not sustain a façade

The Quetta Experience

over time.”107 The 2009-2010 Student agreed, saying that it seemed immaterial
to a DS whether the students used the chappa or offered their own solutions.
Their response would be the same. They would try to “crush them,” that is, point
out the flaws in their plan and force them to defend their solution logically and
doctrinally. What the DS really wanted to see was whether a student could think
quickly on his feet or wilt under pressure.108
This study has dwelt at length on the subject of cheating for two reasons.
First, it was the subject most frequently cited by the Students as the most
negative aspect of their Staff College experience. Second, and more importantly,
it highlights the tension between the professed objectives of the Staff College
as an institution for the professional development of mid-level officers of
the Pakistan Army and the Army’s use of the Staff College as an evaluation
mechanism to determine their future promotion potential. The implications of this
dichotomy will be addressed in the Conclusions section.

Common Characteristics of Top Performers

In their responses to questions on this subject, nearly every Student identified
the top finishing Pakistani students, those who received the coveted B+ grade
at the end of the course and a prestigious next assignment as a brigade major,
as having the same general traits. Occasionally a top finisher did not have all of
them, but the number was apparently so small as to be exceptions proving a
general rule. These characteristics can be summarized as follows:

• They are from a middle class military family background. Many have
brothers, sisters, or wives in the Army. In the 2010-2011 class, for example,
one student had four brothers that preceded him at the Staff College.
Others have fathers, uncles, or other close family members who served in
the Army, a large number of which are or were general officers.
• They received their early education in prestigious English-medium schools
where they attained a high standard of written and oral English exposition.
• They are overwhelmingly from one of the three combat arms—infantry,
armor corps, and artillery—or from the corps of engineers.
• They have international experience that is manifested in a variety of ways:
foreign travel, attendance at a foreign military school, or duty on a UN
peacekeeping operation.
• Although a large number are pious and observant Muslims, they are also
moderate and tolerant in their practice and outlook, and draw a sharp line
between religious beliefs and professional military responsibilities.
• They are creative thinkers who normally eschew the use of chappa,
although a few of them might refer to it occasionally to insure their
solutions do not stray too far from accepted practices.
David O. Smith

• They are “known” to senior officers and DS when they arrive at the Staff
College, as well as to the rest of their class, as superior students and as
“comers” in the Army.

Accordingly, they display a high degree of self-confidence in their ability to do
well in the course, and they are invariably selected for high command and staff
appointments in major exercises.
Going into the last term, the 1990 Student A estimated that 85 percent of
his Pakistani classmates were nervous about their final course evaluation. The
5 percent he classified as original thinkers were much more confident. They
seemed not to care very much about their final grade although they typically
ended up at the top of the class.109 The 1995 Student joked that every Pakistani
student automatically knew his place in the Staff College pecking order and
that within a couple of weeks of starting the course even he knew where
everyone generally stood in the class. No one seemed very surprised, perhaps
disappointed if they were at the bottom of the class ranking, but not surprised
at their final evaluation.110 Most had known at the halfway mark where they
would end up. This is not to say there were not a few disgruntled students. The
2012-2013 Student B reported that a signals officer thought his branch specialty
had held him back, claiming that combat arms officers always got the highest
rankings regardless of their actual performance.111

Joint and Combined Arms Curriculum

Second only to comments about chappa, the largest number of Students
complained about the outdated ground forces doctrine and inadequacy of joint
operations training taught at the Staff College. Most Students would probably
agree with the following general description of the Staff College curriculum
provided by the 2008-2009 Student:

There were four terms, each around 10 weeks duration with the first two
providing the foundation for learning and the last two the application of that
learning to practical exercises.

• First term. Military history studied through the lens of war fighting studies
foundation (WSF): analysis of earlier campaigns with a focus on defensive
operations by a division. Examples were Alexander the Great in Bactria,
Napoleon at Austerlitz, Battle of Yarmuk (Byzantines vs. Muslims), Battle
of Tannenberg in World War I, British frontier campaigns in the Tirah Valley
and, Malakand, Kashmir 1948, Operation Gibraltar in 1965 war with India,
the 1971 Indo-Pak War, 1973 Arab-Israeli War, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
• Second term. Offensive operations; a one-sided defensive exercise and a

The Quetta Experience

mountain warfare exercise.
• Third term. Movement and logistics exercises; one classified two-sided
war-game in a desert environment; and one low intensity conflict (LIC)
exercise. Individual research projects were also completed in this term.
• Fourth term. Two-sided war-game in a Punjab setting with an Indian
opponent and the traditional Tri-Brachial joint exercise. Also there was a
focus on nuclear war. Group research projects were completed as well in
this term.112

The Students attending the Staff College during the first 25 years of the
study period also would have agreed with this assessment made by the 1980
Student: “Tactics are basically World War 2 foot infantry tactics and are in
sharp contrast to current U.S. and NATO doctrine. Attack is usually for shallow
objectives at ratios of 2 to 1. Defense is usually linear and based on the
assumption that the enemy will attack at approximately 2 to 1 strength. Artillery
is highly centralized and inflexible. The effects of electronic warfare, improved
night vision devices, anti-tank GMs, helicopter-lifted infantry and gunship, and
various changes in technology are known but have not been allowed to affect
tactical doctrine.”113 Virtually identical comments were made two and three
decades later respectively by the 2002 and 2011-2012 Students. The latter joked
that he “got a degree in World War II tactics” at the Staff College.114
Although the Staff College curriculum has always emphasized the use of
combined arms in ground operations, the 1997 Student, a combat veteran and
armor company commander in the 1991 Gulf War, thought, “It was taught, but
not practiced routinely in units; clearly it wasn’t second nature to very many of
the Pakistani officers.” Although the use of artillery was well understood, the
integration of armor and infantry units was a major problem. As for command
and control on the modern battlefield, “They just had no concept at all.”115 The
2001 Student was more generous in his evaluation of the doctrine, pointing out
that most exercises used an infantry division that had only one tank regiment of
44 tanks and at most two helicopters to use in its operations. He thought the
use of artillery was generally effective. Any attempt to inject U.S. military lessons
learned, however, was generally dismissed as inapplicable to a poor country like
Pakistan that lacked the resources and technology of the U.S. Army.116
The 1989 Student thought there was an even greater problem in the Pakistan
Army than simply poor unit execution of doctrine. He considered that a high
percentage of the doctrine taught at the Staff College was “recycled U.S. Army
doctrine.” However, unlike in the U.S. Army, which generally views doctrine as a
set of guidelines that have to be adapted to every specific case, the Staff College
seemed unwilling to tolerate the slightest deviation. This “blind adherence,” he
thought, led to rigidity and parochial thinking. Ironically, because this officer had

David O. Smith

been very open and blunt in his denunciation of cheating, during a major exercise
in which he was the intelligence officer of the opposing force, Foxland, he was
accused by a DS of using chappa. On his recommendation, the Foxland forces
made a chemical weapon attack on the friendly Blueland unit and “wiped it out.”
The sponsor DS thought chappa must have been used to identify the location
of the friendly unit. The Student vigorously denied this and explained that the
tactical doctrine of the Pakistan Army was so rigid and predictable that one could
easily template a defensive layout by analyzing only a few data points.117
If anything, the teaching and application of joint doctrine was considered by
the Students to be even worse. The annual joint exercise, Tri-Brachial, has been
conducted in the fourth term of the course in every year since 1977. For this
exercise, students from the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Navy (PN) staff
colleges travel to Quetta to spend a week hearing lectures by the three service
chiefs and college commandants and service orientation presentations by each
staff college, and they participate in a three-day joint operational exercise. Unlike
other major exercises at the Staff College, this exercise was not conducted on a
24/7 basis and as much if not more importance was generally ascribed to various
ancillary events like inter-service sports tournaments than to the exercise itself.
Every Student interviewed was critical of Exercise Tri-Brachial, and each one
had nearly identical negative comments about the inadequacy of joint training.
ANNEX F contains extracts from weekly Staff College training schedules in 1982
and 2010-2011 for joint training conducted in those years, including the amount of
time set aside for Exercise Tri-Brachial. It shows that virtually an identical amount
of time, never more than 41 classroom hours, was devoted to joint training in
every year over a 30-year period.118 The assessment of nearly all Students can
be summarized in the comment of the 2012-2013 Student B who considered
Tri-Brachial an example of “disjointed operations,” noting that although all
three service college classes had been brought together to plan a joint military
operation, the focus of the exercise was on individual service orientation lectures
with only “lip service” paid to actual joint planning techniques. This officer also
noted there were only eight total PAF and PN officers in a class of 382 Pakistani
officers, making it theoretically possible for an Army officer at the Staff College
never to come in contact in his syndicate room with an officer from any other
service until the end of year when the Tri-Brachial exercise was held.119 They
thought that the average Staff College graduate generally leaves Quetta with
little appreciation of the contribution other services might be capable of making
in a future conflict. The 2012-2013 Student A concluded, “Jointness is just not
going to happen in any future conflict.”120
This frustration with course content and Pakistan Army doctrine was not
confined solely to allied students. Several Pakistani students and DS that had
attended western military schools and been exposed to other, more relevant

The Quetta Experience

doctrinal concepts sometimes shared their frustration privately with the
Students. In summarizing his year at the Staff College, the 2012-2013 Student
A thought that as a group his Pakistani classmates were intelligent officers
who had simply not been given the proper tools to enhance their professional
development by the Staff College. “Lots of them were disgusted with the format
of the course and what [doctrine] was being taught.” They were helpless to
do anything about it because to challenge the system risked their professional
careers, so they had to remain silent. He thought many DS would agree privately
with this view.121



Pakistan’s strategic position changed dramatically on several occasions during
the study period. In the study’s baseline year of 1977, Pakistan was mired in
domestic political turmoil that eventually resulted in a military coup by Chief of
Army Staff General Muhammad Zia ul Haq. The Carter administration imposed
stringent military and economic sanctions on Pakistan in 1979 because of its
undeclared nuclear weapons program, but in December of that year Pakistan’s
strategic situation changed completely when the Soviet Union, the main patron
of its archenemy India, invaded Afghanistan. The United States moved quickly
to waive the nuclear sanctions in order to bolster Pakistan’s new position as
a frontline state in the West’s effort to compel the Soviet Union to withdraw.
During the next decade, Pakistan enjoyed close relations with the United States
and other western countries, receiving several billions of dollars in military
and economic assistance as well as enjoying a “blind eye” being turned on its
nuclear program. Because the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan
in 1990 and its political collapse a year later rendered Pakistan largely irrelevant
to U.S. foreign policy, the nuclear sanctions regime was quickly reinstated.
For more than a decade, from 1990 until 2002, Pakistan was mostly cut off
from western military technology and economic assistance and forced to rely
primarily on China and the Gulf Arab states for both. The 9/11 terrorist attacks and
subsequent United States “with us or against us” ultimatum once again made
Pakistan a frontline state on Afghanistan, ushering in a period of large scale
western military and economic assistance that continues today.

Perception of India

Since gaining independence in 1947, Pakistan has always considered India to be
its principal external military threat, even during the decade of Soviet military
intervention in Afghanistan. The 1977 Student considered that the entire Staff
David O. Smith

College curriculum reflected the belief that India was “the number one threat”
to Pakistan. After all, he explained, there had been two wars with India in the
past 12 years and most of the Pakistani students expected a third one. Pakistan
stationed relatively few military units in the western part of the country, and
“everything else was lined up hub-to-hub in the east.”122 Most Students attending
the Staff College during the 1980s would have agreed with the assessment
of the 1981 Student who, when asked to prioritize the Pakistani perceptions
of its external threats, replied, “India, India, and India.”123 The only respondent
detecting any concern about the Soviet Union was the 1989 Student. When
news broke that Soviet troops had begun the process of withdrawing northward,
a number of his classmates expressed fear that the Soviet Union would hold
Pakistan responsible for its failure in Afghanistan. But even this perception of
external threat was couched in the context of the Indian threat because of the
robust India-Soviet military relationship, which they feared the Soviets would
exploit to gain a measure of revenge against Pakistan.124
Several Students perceived the attitude expressed by most of the Pakistani
students about India as “manifested in paranoia.”125 The 1995 Student observed
that whenever his classmates talked about India it sounded like “memorized
propaganda…perhaps as a way to reinforce long held attitudes. There was just
no questioning of it,” although none of them had any direct knowledge of India.126
One Student commented that his classmates seemed to have “a chip on their
shoulder” about their neighbor, as if they had been “born and bred believing
India was their enemy.” This visceral and reflexive hatred of India seemed like
“a part of their identity as a Pakistani, and a ready excuse to rationalize their
national failures.” At one social event, another Student, an Urdu speaker, heard a
Pakistani classmate tell one of his young children how “evil” Indian people were.
And still another Student noticed a general contempt for the Hindu religion,
with many of his classmates alleging that Hindus were “deceptive, tricky, and
generally morally reprehensible people.”127 The 1993 Student considered every
conversation about India to be “obnoxiously one-sided.” During graduate school
at Columbia University he had studied the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, and had even
written a paper about the 1972 Simla Agreement that had ended the conflict.
When he asked his classmates about their attitude toward the Simla territorial
settlement and the subsequent return of Pakistani prisoners of war, many of
them refused to admit that Pakistan had lost any territory to India or that more
than 90,000 Pakistani POWs had languished in Indian prisons for several months
after the war.128
Attitudes about India became even more antagonistic after 9/11. Many
Pakistani students interpreted Indian activities on the Line of Control and
international border as preparation for another major war. On December 13, a
terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament was attributed by India to Lashkar–e-

The Quetta Experience

Taiba, with Pakistan’s operational support. This led to the 2001-2002 border crisis
that resulted in the mobilization and deployment of the Indian and Pakistani
armies to the international border for eight months. Not long afterward, an
aggressive new Indian Army ground forces doctrine nicknamed Cold Start was
promulgated. Its intention seemed to be to reduce the time required for India
to mobilize and deploy its ground forces for a major attack on Pakistan.129 The
2008-2009 Student said that nearly every Pakistani student at the Staff College
subscribed to the notion that India had never accepted the idea of Pakistan as
an independent state, and is seeking new ways to destroy Pakistan or render it
harmless to India’s regional designs. The 2011-2012 Student recalled students and
DS accusing India of establishing large numbers of consulates or other facilities
in Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan’s western provinces of Balochistan and
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The highest number mentioned was 22, but the number
varied with every interlocutor. One DS even complained openly that “the United
States is helping them do it.” His explanation was that Pakistan was too strong
militarily for India to attack successfully along the international border. Therefore,
while India prepared for war in the east, it needed to weaken Pakistan by forcing
it to diverting more forces to the western part of the country. Much anxiety was
also displayed about the rapidly improving U.S.-India military relationship, about
both the growing quantity of military sales and the proliferation of joint exercises.
The example of a U.S. Army Stryker (an infantry fighting vehicle) unit deploying
to India for a small unit exercise was cited as an example, and this became the
fodder for much discussion in the syndicate rooms.130
In the last decade of the study, a new wrinkle appeared in the Pakistani
perception of the Indian threat. This involved a perceived Indian challenge to the
agreed distribution of the waters of the Indus River tributaries, an issue that had
long been considered settled in perpetuity by the 1960 Indus River Treaty. One
Commandant, on several occasions, openly predicted that the next war with
India would be over water. Because all major rivers in Pakistan have their origin
in India, and as water becomes scarcer in the future due to climate change, India
will attempt to exploit its geographical advantage by denying Pakistan its rights
under the 1960 treaty.131
The single bright spot in a dismal litany of conspiratorial conjecture was
thought by some Students to be a subtle change in recent thinking about the
centrality of the military threat posed by India compared to growing internal
security threats from the plethora of extremist groups in Pakistan. The 2009-2010
Student perceived a “generational divide” on this issue, with the senior officers
and DS having a clear anti-India bias and younger officers being “the complete
opposite.” This attitude was even more prevalent among the small numbers of
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Navy (PN) students at the Staff College.
Junior and mid-grade Army officers, particularly those who had served in the

David O. Smith

Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), tended to view terrorism as a much
more immediate threat to Pakistan than India. These officers, he said, had spent
the bulk of their military careers fighting this new threat, had seen their brother
officers and soldiers killed and wounded by the groups, and watched their friends
and their families’ lives shattered forever.
In syndicate room discussions and occasionally even during the question
period of guest speaker lectures held in the main auditorium, a number of
students stated that India was less of a threat to Pakistan than the terrorist
groups targeting state institutions. Such statements were invariably challenged
by DS, the Chief Instructor, or the Commandant, who pointedly reminded
them of the lengthy history of conflict between the two countries. The Student
thought the senior officers were clinging to India as the major threat to Pakistan
because an admission to the contrary would render their entire careers
irrelevant. Many DS were caught in the middle in this debate. Those that had
served in UN peacekeeping operations freely admitted that Indians were their
“natural friends in such an international environment, and that they gravitated
toward them because of a common interest in food, movies, and sports.” These
interactions diminished their natural antipathy toward India as the existential
enemy. The Student emphasized that conversations like these occurred only over
private dinners, never in the syndicate rooms or in the main auditorium.132 A year
later, the 2010-2011 Student A’s Pakistani student sponsor admitted there was too
much emphasis on India as the main threat.133 Even more recently, a Pakistani
student admitted to the 2012-2013 Student B, “I don’t know why we hate them
so much. We like their music, their movies, and our two languages are nearly
the same.” He said others in the class also thought it was time to let go of this
irrational enmity and for Pakistan to “move on.” As Army officers, however, they
were committed to following orders and would do whatever was necessary to
preserve Pakistan in the event of a future Indian attack.134 The 2013-2014 Student
thought the majority of his classmates arrived at the Staff College desiring a
better bilateral relationship with India, but that the Staff College narrative “was all
against it.” Describing several formal presentations made in the main auditorium
highlighting the existential threat posed by India, he concluded that the Staff
College message to its students was basically that India hates Pakistan, that it
is waging a global information campaign against Pakistan, and that it is actively
destabilizing the two western provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
By the end of the course, The Student believed most of his classmates had
become “fully indoctrinated.”135

Perception of the United States

In the baseline year of 1977, the United States had not yet imposed sanctions
on Pakistan’s nascent nuclear weapons program, and earlier restrictions on
The Quetta Experience

weapon sales that were imposed on both India and Pakistan during the 1971
war had been lifted. The 1977 Student believed that most Pakistani officers still
“respected us” because of a long history of close military ties dating back to the
early 1950s and the ongoing military assistance program. “No one wanted to
do anything to interfere with that program,” he laughed, because “they probably
saw us as a valued ally with deep pockets.” In terms of the perceived value of
Pakistan’s external friendships, he thought the United States ranked number one,
the United Kingdom number two, and Saudi Arabia number three.136 Three years
later, following the imposition of nuclear sanctions in 1978 and an abrupt reversal
in American attitudes toward Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,
the attitude was more ambivalent:

The generally anti-West feeling prevailing in Pakistan at the present
time is due to real or perceived notions of the Pakistanis concerning
the failures of U.S. foreign policy both in the Middle East and South
Asia, the failure to provide military aid to Pakistan in substantial
quantities, and the push toward establishing a completely Islamic
Republic, are magnified by the conservative Muslim population of
Quetta and Balochistan…. [Nevertheless] people were delighted to
have an American in Quetta after a one year absence….Regardless
of their personal feelings, these people almost without exception
look to the west for help, not necessarily because they want to,
but because they feel they have no other viable alternative.137

Ambivalence about the United States continued throughout the 1980s even
as the size and scope of the U.S. military assistance program ramped up. Many
Students in that decade recalled the positive impact made on Pakistani public
opinion by the 1983 delivery of the first F-16 fighter aircraft, which came to be
seen by many if not all Pakistanis as the symbol of the bilateral relationship.
According to the 1982 Student, one could not travel down any highway or in any
village in Pakistan without seeing colorfully decorated trucks and buses painted
with pictures of the F-16 and crossed United States and Pakistan flags. He also
noted that an enduring perception of the 1965 and 1971 wars with India was
the unreliability of the U.S. as an ally. Many students complained bitterly that
Pakistan had always been a faithful ally of the United States—“your most allied
ally” in the Cold War, “and how did you treat us? You cut us off in the 1965 war
and didn’t help us in 1971 when India took our territory.” At the same time,
many Pakistani students also recalled their fathers’ fond memories of the “good
old days” of the 1950s and 1960s when the U.S. military had a large presence
in Pakistan and built many military cantonments. “There was great nostalgia for
that, but always with a touch of suspicion about ulterior U.S. motives.”138

David O. Smith

By the end of the decade, the 1989 Student thought most Pakistani students
were “tired of the relationship” with the United States, suspecting that when
the Soviet Union departed Afghanistan, so would the United States abandon the
region, and them as well. The Pressler Amendment to the Foreign Assistance
Act, a legislative action that required the suspension of all military and economic
assistance to Pakistan unless the President certified annually that it did not
possess a nuclear weapon, had passed in 1985 and pressure was building in the
U.S. Congress to hold Pakistan accountable for its nuclear program now that
the Soviet regional threat was abating.139 He also thought that after a decade of
Zia’s Islamization initiatives, there was a growing rift between Pakistani officers
who were still relatively secular in their thinking and those that believed there
was “a cultural schism” between Muslims and westerners: if a person wasn’t a
Muslim, he was automatically considered to be a “barbarian” who drank alcohol
and had lax moral standards. Significantly, he noted that Pakistani officers who
had attended U.S. military or civilian schools didn’t share this view. They were
friendlier, more open, more tolerant, and more cosmopolitan than Pakistani
officers that had not studied abroad. Occasionally, some of them even defended
the U.S. perspective when others in his syndicate criticized American policies.140
In November 1990, the United States “pulled the trigger” and imposed
the draconian Pressler sanctions on Pakistan. An almost immediate result was
a suspension on the delivery of 28 additional F-16 aircraft that Pakistan had
contracted for in 1987 and that had already been built. The failure to deliver these
aircraft, the very symbol of the bilateral relationship, became a festering sore
that has never completely healed to this day.141 Despite the sanctions, the 1990
Student B thought most of his classmates considered the United States to be
“still a friend,” although he admitted the Pressler decision “made things a little
more precarious” for him. Many DS that had attended U.S. military schools took
the Pressler sanctions in stride, but he reported being “almost accosted a couple
of times” by his Pakistani classmates who took the decision more personally.
He noted that classmates who had attended U.S. schools were still eager to talk
about their experiences, looked favorably on the United States, and hoped the
relationship eventually would improve.142
For the next decade, Pakistan was largely cut off from western military
technology since most European arms suppliers (France was an exception)
generally followed the U.S. lead on high technology military sales. Politically,
Pakistan became a “near pariah” state in the international community, not only
because of its nuclear program, but because it was one of only three countries
to recognize the odious Taliban government in Afghanistan. It had already come
very close in 1993 to being placed on the United States’ state-sponsors of
terrorism list. The 1993 Student thought Pakistan was a country “in flux” without

The Quetta Experience

a powerful patron in the emerging new world order that was evolving after the
collapse of the Soviet Union:

They [Pakistan] seemed to have lost their relevance on the
strategic issue. We [the United States] needed them during
the Cold War, but no longer, and now Pakistan is under Pressler
sanctions….They were victims of everything. One guy said to
me, “We don’t have any bite from the rest of the world. They
don’t need us. We need to find something that they need us
for. What is our destiny in the future?” They were most upset
that they had lost their place in the world and their relevance.143

The United States was seen by most Pakistanis at the Staff College not as a
hostile state, but one that was fickle in its friendship, congenitally unreliable, and
fixated only on nuclear issues in South Asia. Many Pakistani students complained
of an unfair “double standard on nuclear weapons,” arguing that the United
States was punishing Pakistan for simply trying to match what India had already
done. India, they argued, had never been punished for its 1974 nuclear explosion
despite being a client state of the Soviet Union and backing the wrong side in
After the Al Qaeda attacks on the United States in September 2001, Pakistan
was given little choice by the United States other than to repudiate its former
backing of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and join the U.S.-led coalition
to fight global terrorism. India had reportedly offered the United States access
to its port and airfields and any Pakistani refusal to match that offer would have
put the survival of the state in jeopardy.145 The 2004 Student thought most
Pakistani students saw the bilateral relationship with the United States as “a
necessary evil” because it [the United States] was “the big guy on the block”
after its invasion of Afghanistan. Many believed Pakistan had been dragged into
the partnership against its national interest, and that eventually it would suffer
adverse consequences caused by the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Others saw
Pakistan as merely “biding its time” with the United States, that it “would play
along for now,” but soon there would come a time when the two states would
inevitably part ways as had been the consistent pattern in the relationship.146
Many Pakistani students also characterized the relationship as plagued by
mistrust and an arrogant attitude by the United States. The United States,
they complained, always acted as the senior partner in the relationship while
expecting Pakistan, the junior partner, simply to fall into line regardless of its
own national security needs. Many thought Pakistan would be better off without
the U.S. military and economic aid that always came saddled with humiliating
conditions. Others perceived that things were actually better before 9/11 when

David O. Smith

there had been no aid under the Pressler Amendment sanctions regime.147 The
2009-2010 Student estimated that only 20 percent of his Pakistani classmates
were pro-U.S. or pro-West, recognized Pakistan’s dependence on western
economic and military assistance, and thought the two countries should be allies
in the war on terrorism. The vast majority, perhaps as high as 70 percent, was
either neutral or had mixed opinions. A small minority, perhaps 5 percent, were
strongly anti-U.S. and anti-West, but their antipathy was rooted in policy, not
religion. He claimed the British and Australian students would agree with these
Several significant events in 2011 dramatically—and negatively—altered the
trajectory of the official relationship. These included the death in January of two
Pakistanis in Lahore at the hands of an American intelligence operative with
questionable diplomatic cover, embarrassing revelations about the Pakistan Army
that were disclosed in Wikileaks, the U.S. raid in Abbottabad in May that resulted
in the death of Usama bin Laden, and a U.S. airstrike on a Pakistani border post
along the Durand Line in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers. The day after
the UBL raid, the 2010-2011 Student B and his Pakistani classmates watched
the announcement on television by President Obama. Initially, he estimated
75 percent of the class was happy about the death of UBL, with many even
slapping him on the back and congratulating him. But 25 percent were clearly
unhappy about the violation of Pakistani sovereignty. When it became known
later that Pakistan had not cooperated in the raid, and that in fact the Pakistan Air
Force had tried to stop it but was too late in responding, most of the students
became glum. One told him, “I don’t even feel proud now to be a Pakistani. UBL
was living in Abbottabad!” A few days later, the Chief of Army Staff, General
Ashfaq Kayani, visited the Staff College as part of a country-wide tour to explain
to the Army what Pakistan’s response would be to any future U.S. actions of this
nature. He spoke only to the Pakistani students in the college auditorium. The
allied students were told to return to their quarters. Surprisingly, the event was
broadcast on the college closed circuit TV outlet and many of the allied students
(although not the Student) watched it. Kayani’s message to the Army was simple:
“This will never be allowed to happen again.” The Commandant pointedly told
the Student afterward, “You [the United States] stabbed us in the back.” There
seemed to be a deep sense of shame and embarrassment attached to the
event. Three weeks later, the two American students gave the required country
presentation about the United States to their classmates assembled in the Staff
College main auditorium. Several students pointedly refused to stand and clap
at the end, an egregious insult that violated college protocol, but no remedial
action was taken by senior officers or DS. Afterward, a handful of students told
him they thought the U.S. was intent on seizing or neutralizing Pakistan’s nuclear

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In the weeks and months after the UBL raid, the United States was
castigated by Staff College guest speakers. The previous “abandonment” of
Afghanistan and Pakistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1990 was cited by many
Pakistani students as the root cause of the growth of Islamic extremism and the
“Kalashnikov culture” that had sprung up in the western areas of the country.
The 2011-2012 Student A reported that not all Pakistani students shared this
view. Students who had attended foreign military schools or who had served
abroad on UN duty were “truly professional officers who expressed admiration
for the way the UBL raid was done, but they still had concerns about the
violations of Pakistani sovereignty.” But he also reported that the Salala border
incident marked a clear turning point for most of the other students. “Some
students gave us [U.S. students] the cold shoulder, especially students who
had served in the units that suffered casualties, although most of the others
were ‘professional’ in their conduct.” Those who were the most critical or
emotional were from “the lost generation” of officers,150 the group that had not
been exposed to western values during the 1990s Pressler sanctions era. The
2011-2012 Student B was blunter in his assessment, saying that most of his
classmates “wanted us to leave.” A smaller group was concerned the United
States was remaining in Afghanistan only to have a base of operations from
which to seize or neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. They now perceived that
for the first time in history, the United States had become a serious military
threat to Pakistan. He also noted that about half the students in his syndicates
had been to U.S. military schools and many of them subscribed to such
conspiratorial theories.151
Although the 2013-2014 Student was treated courteously, he thought the
collective view of the United States by the Pakistani students was basically,
“We hate America.” The reasoning was highly emotional: the United States
uses Pakistan and then discards her; the United States doesn’t respect Pakistani
values; the United States is fighting people that Pakistani people support, such
as the Palestinians; the United States is leading a “crusade” against Islam; the
United States “screwed up Iraq” and “blundered into Afghanistan and made
things worse (for Pakistan).” Some wanted to see ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq
and Syria) give the United States a “black eye” in Iraq. Typically, students who
had taken military courses in the United States sought him out to discuss their
experiences, which were almost always positive, and then to “vent” on the
same themes. Curiously, anything the United States did militarily (in terms of
military tactics, techniques, and procedures) was considered to be the “gold
standard.” The Student was constantly asked to explain or elaborate on how
the United States military performed the operational tasks being taught in the
Staff College curriculum. Toward the end of the course, the new Chief of Army
Staff, General Raheel Sharif, visited the Staff College and addressed the student

David O. Smith

body in the main auditorium. He made a point of asking all the allied students
to attend. This was in stark contrast to the usual Pakistan-only audience when
senior military officers visited the college. In his presentation he emphasized
that Pakistan and the United States were on the same side and that the United
States was being very helpful to Pakistan as it prepared for a large scale military
operation in North Waziristan Agency.152

Other Perceived External Friends

China. At the beginning of the study, China was a respected friendly country
that was helping Pakistan build major infrastructure projects like the Karakoram
Highway and a heavy mechanical complex at Taxila. It was not economically
strong enough to be a substitute for the United States, Saudi Arabia, or even
Iran. China also provided large amounts of military equipment like the F-6
fighter aircraft, a Chinese version of the Soviet MIG-19, and T-55 tanks, but this
equipment was unreliable and could not compare with similar products based
on more modern Western military technology.153 Only later, during the Pressler
sanctions period, did China come to be seen as Pakistan’s only reliable ally and
friend, and (hopefully) as a potential partner in any future contingency with
India. Some students at the Staff College privately admitted that China always
had its own interests at heart when dealing with Pakistan, and others noted
that “nothing was provided for free,” although it was always made available and
always on good terms. None wanted Chinese military equipment; everyone
preferred equipment from the United States or other Western states because
it was of higher quality and more reliable.154 In the decade after 9/11 there
was increasing doubt both about the reliability of China as a partner to offset
Indian pressure and about the unreliability of Chinese military equipment. The
2002 Student noticed his classmates’ disappointment that China offered no
help during Pakistan’s lengthy border crisis with India. The 2003 Student heard
complaints from many classmates who had been deployed during the border
crisis that Chinese military equipment was “useless” and that Pakistan had
received only “garbage” for its money. They were also disillusioned with the
widespread corruption associated with the procurement and delivery of Chinese
weapon systems, although other students were more sanguine because “the
United States has abandoned us and we have nowhere else to go” for military
The official Pakistani narrative about China in the last decade of the study
stressed only the positive aspects of the relationship. During a speech to the
2008-2009 course, Prime Minister Yusaf Raza Gilani told the audience that
Pakistan had a “strategic relationship” with the United States because of what
had happened after 9/11, but that it had an “enduring relationship” with China.
Ironically, the Student observed that the Chinese student attending the course
The Quetta Experience

that year was treated no better than the African students by his Staff College
classmates.156 After the abrupt downturn in relations with the United States
in 2011, there appeared to be a corresponding drastic upward revision in the
Pakistan-China military-to-military relationship, with more Chinese students
attending the Staff College and more Pakistani students mentioning they
had attended Chinese military courses. Although no Chinese allied students
attended the Staff College in the first decade of the study, and only a single
student occasionally attended in the second and third decades, six Chinese
students attended the 2011-2012 course. That year, U.S. Students observed many
instances of Chinese military doctrine being discussed in the syndicate rooms
and were told that several Pakistani students had recently attended military
courses there.157 The observations of the 2012-2013 Student B probably best
summarizes the current view of the China-Pakistan relationship: although China
is universally considered to be Pakistan’s most reliable ally, a growing minority
realizes that China is using Pakistan for its own security imperatives, notably
by building the deep water port of Gwadar on the Makran coast of southern
Balochistan, and that nothing provided by China is free. While recognizing that
Chinese economic and military assistance comes without the onerous conditions
required to accept U.S. economic and military assistance, and universally praising
China for building hallmark infrastructure projects like the Karakorum Highway
and the Chasma nuclear reactor complex, there is little expectation that China
will intervene militarily on Pakistan’s side in the event of a future war with India.158
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Nearly every Student interviewed made
similar comments about Saudi Arabia. The country was respected and venerated
for its role as the custodian of the two holiest sites in the Muslim Ummah,
the mosques at Mecca and Medina. Most Pakistanis were grateful for the
petroleum largesse it shared with Pakistan during periods of economic stress.
But on a personal level, DS and students at the Staff College barely disguised
their contempt for Saudi and other Gulf Arab states’ military prowess, and
harshly criticized the work ethic and personal behavior of the students they
sent to the Staff College. The 2002 Student noted there was little fondness by
the DS or Pakistani students for the Gulf Arab students who were perceived
as spoiled, rich, and lazy.159 Many Pakistani students in the first two decades
of the study had served for long periods of time in Saudi Arabia as part of a
Pakistani armor brigade stationed near Tabuk. They had benefitted enormously
from the monetary stipends provided by the Saudi government for their service,
but even they were contemptuous of the Saudi students, with one noting that
Saudi Arabia had sent a brigadier to attend a course where most Pakistanis
were majors. He sniffed and said, “That is about the right equivalence.”160 Later,
others expressed concern that the Saudi government was facilitating Al Qaeda

David O. Smith

and other radical Islamist groups by funding radical mosques and madrassas to
promote its own harsh version of Islam in Pakistan.161

Turkey and North Korea. These two countries with little in common were also
mentioned occasionally as being “friends” of Pakistan. Turkey was respected for
the prowess of its military establishment and its industrial capacity, and many
Pakistani students, particularly in the Musharraf years because of his close
personal connection to that country, saw it as a proper model for civil-military
relations in Pakistan because of the constitutional role then being played by the
Army. With the installation of a less secular and more Islamic government under
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2003, this model had begun to degrade,
much to the “consternation” of many students.162 North Korea is mentioned only
because three Students in the1987-1990 period studied Urdu at the National
Institute for Modern Languages in Islamabad before attending the Staff College,
and noticed a large number of North Koreans learning Urdu as well. The 1987
Student saw at least four students at NIML and noticed many more in Karachi
while on tours of Pakistani infrastructure facilities.163 Although Pakistan was
receiving help from China in developing solid fuel missiles, it had also sought
assistance from North Korea in the early 1990s to develop a liquid-fueled long-
range missile based on the North Korean Nodong missile.164
Iran. At the beginning of the study period, Iran was clearly perceived as a
friendly country, having been the first state to recognize newly independent
Pakistan in 1947, and providing military and diplomatic assistance during two
wars with India. The 1977 Student observed that Pakistan and Iran were allies in
the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and maintained close military-to-military
relations. Iran even sent an officer to serve as a DS at the Staff College that
year.165 Relations became frosty after the 1979 Iranian Revolution because of
Pakistan’s historically close (if somewhat on and off) relationship with the United
States, but by 1987 there were two Iranian students at the Staff College and
more attended periodically thereafter. Nearly every Student queried mentioned
that no Pakistani student considered Iran to be a military threat to Pakistan.
In fact, the Iranian border was frequently cited as Pakistan’s only uncontested
border.166 In 1990, Student B thought Pakistan was trying to improve relations
with Iran by improving the highway that ran from Quetta to Zahidan through
Balochistan as a way to stimulate the economy of the province. Iran sent two
students to the Staff College that year, one from the regular Iranian Army
and one from the Revolutionary Guards. The former spoke good English and
had attended a U.S. Army school before the Iranian Revolution. He was well
respected in the course and once told the Student that “the other guy,” the
Revolutionary Guards officer, had been sent to the course to keep an eye on

The Quetta Experience

him.167 In the next 20 years, the perception of Iran remained generally positive
although occasionally there were concerns that Iran might be meddling in
Pakistan’s always simmering Sunni-Shia sectarian dispute.168 This was usually
offset by expectations that a long-anticipated oil and gas pipeline might solve
Pakistan’s chronic energy shortages. There was little criticism of the Iranian
nuclear program because most Pakistani students seemed to think the United
States was violating Iran’s sovereign right to have a peaceful nuclear program,
and even nuclear weapons if they chose.169

Other Perceived External Enemies

Afghanistan. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan were troubled from the outset,
when Afghanistan refused to accept Pakistan in 1947 as the legitimate successor
state to Great Britain and voted against Pakistan’s entry into the UN. It also has
never recognized the 1893 Durand Line to be a valid international border.170 After
the Soviet Union completed withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, the country
quickly collapsed into a civil war between competing mujahideen factions. By
mid-1994, the Taliban movement arose in southern Afghanistan, and by the end
of that year was making headway in the Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan.
None of the 1994 Student’s classmates admitted any knowledge about ISI
involvement with the Taliban movement. Any discussion of Afghanistan was
always framed in the context of “the mess” left behind by the United States
when it abruptly decamped from the region after the Soviet withdrawal. Many
references were made at the Staff College about Pakistan’s need for “strategic
depth” in Afghanistan, with no precise definition being offered about what the
term meant. According to the Student, “they all thought they needed it [strategic
depth] and understood the only way to get it was to have a friendly government
in Kabul. Despite this uncertainty about how the Taliban movement would evolve,
no one considered it a security threat to Pakistan.171 Three years later, there was
much discussion in syndicate rooms about the progress the Taliban movement
was making in taking over the country. Kabul fell to its forces in 1996 and several
Pakistani students openly admitted that ISI was providing at least some level
of support. Most thought Afghanistan needed to be stabilized in order for the
potential of oil and gas supplies then being discovered in Central Asia to be
fully realized. Pakistan wanted a friendly government that would be a partner in
developing energy pipelines linking Central Asia to Pakistan. Any group that could
provide that condition, even the odious Taliban, was better than the seemingly
unending civil war that had convulsed the country for a generation.172
Soon after 9/11, with the 2001-2002 border crisis with India unfolding,
Afghanistan came to be seen in the context of a simultaneous move by India
to pressure Pakistan on both its western and eastern flanks. The border crisis
also highlighted a fear of military overstretch because a sizeable part of the
David O. Smith

Pakistan Army had initially remained along the Durand Line at the urging of
the United States, even as the Indian Army was deploying to the international
border. Afghanistan itself was not deemed to be a significant military threat,
but the Pashtun tribes that overlapped the Durand Line remained a constant
irritant. The 2002 Student noted a concern that Pakistan might lose its regional
influence because of the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan: “The ISI still had
a relationship with the Taliban at the time, and it was a little tenuous with them
trying to sustain the relationship while pretending that they weren’t. There was a
concern that they would lose influence on the western border.”173 There was also
a deepening mistrust of the interim government of President Hamid Karzai, who
was considered to be too close to India. Many students quoted a Parsi parable
whose message was basically, “You can never trust an Afghan.” Afghanistan
was also to blame for a deteriorating internal security situation in Pakistan
that was due partly to the influx of Afghan refugees that came to Pakistan in
the 1980s and never returned, partly to a second influx of refugees caused by
the 1990s civil war, and partly to increased drug trafficking and a “Kalashnikov
culture” of guns that had bled over the Durand Line into Balochistan and
Northwest Frontier Province. The 2003 Student recalled several conversations
about the need to build a fence along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, and harsh
criticism of the United States for not helping them build it.174
A decade later, Afghanistan was viewed as a country made stable only by
enormous quantities of U.S. military and economic power. Once the United
States departed, many Pakistani students believed it would once again descend
into chaos. There would then be only two outcomes for Afghanistan: it would
either become an extremist Islamic state headed by a Taliban-style government,
or it would be virtually a satellite of India which would quickly rush in to fill the
vacuum left by a U.S. withdrawal. Despite all the money and U.S. training poured
into the Afghan National Army, none thought Afghanistan could ever pose a
serious military threat to the Pakistan Army. Without a large American presence
standing behind it, the ANA would simply fall apart into its ethnic components
and a well-armed Pashtun mini-state would emerge in the southern part of the
Israel. A surprising number of Pakistani students expressed a mixed opinion
about Israel, probably due in part to Israel’s growing level of cooperation with the
Indian military establishment and to many similarities between the two states:
both having been born as homelands for religious minorities, both involved
in military competition with larger and hostile neighbors, and both having
developed clandestine nuclear weapon programs to guarantee their national
sovereignty.176 The 1997 Student observed that “When you got past the Jewish
issue,” most Pakistanis recognized the commonality of their situation with Israel.
A major difference, however, was the attitude of the United States. They couldn’t

The Quetta Experience

understand why the United States always said “yes” to Israel but always “no”
to Pakistan on the nuclear issue.177 There was a universal abhorrence of Israeli
behavior in the Middle East. However, one student admitted to the 2012-2013
Student B, “I really don’t know why we hate them.” Many considered Israel to
have an adverse influence on U.S. domestic politics and, therefore, on America’s
position on Middle East issues.178

Allied Student Officers

No comprehensive listing of foreign, or “allied” officers, attending the Staff
College is available. The 1987 Student ascribed a general “pecking order” that
most Students would have echoed. He divided them into three tiers. Tier 1
included the Western countries whose attendance at the SC was considered
to be a validation of the high standing of the Staff College. The opinion of these
students was sought and respected. They were expected to set the standard for
the rest of the allied officers, conform to the college rules, and perform at a high
level. Tier 2 consisted of countries like Jordan, Iran, Iraq, and the UAE. They were
respected but not expected to perform at the same level. Tier 3 was the Africans,
Southeast Asians, and Saudi Arabia, the latter being respected for its wealth
and willingness to aid Pakistan, but disliked as individuals. Nothing much was
expected of them and their opinion counted for little.179
The first (and only) Swedish officer attended the Staff College in 1995 as a
diplomatic gesture by Sweden to apologize for a terrible mistake made a year
earlier. In 1994, Chief of Army Staff General Abdul Waheed went to Sweden for
a routine counterpart visit. An avid rider, Waheed was provided the opportunity
by his host to ride several magnificent horses. When he returned to Pakistan, he
chose the best stallion available at the Pakistan Army Remount Depot to send
as a thank-you present to his Swedish host. Unfortunately, the horse arrived
at the Swedish customs area in Stockholm on Christmas Eve and no one was
available to process the horse into quarantine. The Swedish customs bureaucracy
eventually decided the horse had to be destroyed. This became a mortifying
international incident when the news reached Pakistan. The Swedish Army chief
decided to send a Swedish student to the Staff College and offered several slots
in Swedish military schools to Pakistan as a gesture of atonement.
Based on a review of 15 college yearbooks, the following countries generally
sent students to Quetta in the years covered by the study period:

• Africa: Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia,
• Middle East: Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine
Liberation Organization, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, UAE.
• Northeast Asia: China, South Korea.
David O. Smith

• South and Central Asia. Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan,
Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Turkmenistan.
• South America: Brazil (first time attending in 2012-2013).
• Southeast Asia: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand.
• Western Countries: Australia, Bosnia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy,
South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States.


Without a doubt, the most dramatic change observed in Pakistan during
the study period was the sharp decline in the internal security environment
throughout the country. In the first 25 years of the study, the security
environment in Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan and home of the Staff
College, was quite benign. Students were able to move freely about the city
and travel widely in the province of Balochistan and other areas of Pakistan.
This situation deteriorated rapidly after the onset of U.S. military operations in
Afghanistan in 2001, and has continued on a steep downward trajectory.

Pakistan’s Security Environment

In the study’s baseline year of 1977, an insurgency in the province of Balochistan
that began in 1973 was continuing into its fourth year. Many dissident Baloch
had been forced by large-scale Pakistan Army operations to flee across the
Durand Line into Afghanistan where the government of President Muhammad
Daud provided them sanctuary and limited operational support. At the height of
the insurgency, approximately 80,000 Pakistan Army troops were committed to
this operation.180 Because fighting was mostly confined to isolated parts of the
vast province, the insurgency had minimal impact on the provincial capital of
Quetta. The experience of the 1977 Student and his family was typical of most
American Students at the Staff College until the post-9/11 decade. They moved
easily in and around the city of Quetta, watched the camel caravans moving back
and forth from the Indus plain to Afghanistan, picnicked with friends and family
in the nearby Khojak and Bolan Passes, and visited the refreshingly cool, cedar-
covered hill station of Ziarat in the summertime. On his mid-course break, the
Student and his family traveled by automobile through Afghanistan and Iran as
far west as the Caspian Sea. On other occasions, they drove 500 miles through
the vast Baloch deserts from Quetta to Karachi, and through the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pass without an armed escort. Staff
College field exercises were routinely held in adjacent districts north and west
of Quetta. Although the Baloch insurgency was ongoing, there was little day-to-
day news coverage in the media. During a routine medical appointment at the

The Quetta Experience

Combined Military Hospital in the military cantonment, however, he recalled
seeing military casualties arriving in ambulances and observed Pakistan Army
medical personnel dressing their wounds. Many of his classmates and several
DS had served in units fighting the insurgency, but rarely was this discussed in
his presence. Because there had been several other insurgencies in Balochistan
since independence, this one, like the occasional tribal unrest in the FATA, was
perceived by most students as normal, something that had to be “managed”
from time to time, and not a major threat to the state. Most of his classmates
assumed that a political deal eventually would be negotiated with the dissident
tribal leaders, and in fact this is precisely what occurred soon after General Zia’s
July 1977 coup.181
The 1980 Student, on the other hand, reported being harassed occasionally
while shopping in Quetta. This occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Iranian
Revolution, and he admitted that the “jostling” and occasional minor vandalism
to his automobile had been done only by a few members of the pro-Khomeini
Hazara community that lived in one section of the city.182 More typical was
the experience of the 1981 and 1982 Students who had young children. Their
wives frequently drove downtown by themselves to shop for food and clothing,
and wandered freely through the crowded bazaars and alleyways to barter for
semi-precious stones and trinkets. They were never accosted by anyone but the
ubiquitous beggars that gathered along the main road where foreigners usually
parked their cars, and had no reason to be concerned about their personal safety.
Although most people took little notice of them, the unusual sight of small red-
headed or blonde-haired Western children nearly always evoked great curiosity
from Pakistani women who could not resist touching their hair. Both Students
were able to travel freely throughout the country except for narrow belts of
territory along the Durand Line and the international border with India.183 Quetta
in the 1980s was a growing and increasingly cosmopolitan city with a myriad
of foreign non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian support and
medical care to Afghan refugees fleeing from the Soviet invasion. There was
a U.S.-Pakistan Friendship Council that taught English and sponsored person-
to-person programs, a USAID compound where checks could be cashed more
easily than in local banks, and even a USIS Library in the heart of downtown
Quetta. The latter was extremely popular both with the local citizenry and the
students at the University of Balochistan. In the 1990s, the center of expatriate
activity was the Serena Hotel, where many French, Italians, and a mix of other
nationalities resided and worked for UN agencies and Medecins Sans Frontieres.
Tactical problems at the Staff College were still conducted in the local training
areas north and west of Quetta, and many Students opined there seemed little
need for the small security detail that always accompanied the exercise vehicles.
Although all American facilities in Quetta closed in 1990 after the United States

David O. Smith

imposed the Pressler sanctions on Pakistan, this benign security situation largely
remained unchanged for another decade.
A visible decline in the security environment occurred shortly after the
onset of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan in October 2001. After the fall of
the Taliban government, “a lot of the Taliban and hard-cores were flowing into
Quetta, so it changed our security posture,” recalled the 2002 Student. There
was great concern at the Staff College about the safety of the only two Western
allied students (the other was British) remaining at the college that year, and
so many restrictions were imposed on their movement that each considered
himself “basically a prisoner.” The fleeing Taliban fighters were not regarded by
the Pakistani students as a potential security threat, but the continuing influx of
additional Afghan refugees was another matter. Some students were supportive
of their presence, while others were more wary about their long-term impact
on Pakistan.184 The security situation worsened dramatically in 2003 when two
militants were killed trying to penetrate the Staff College main gate. A new tactic
by some militant groups, the use of suicide bombers to attack military units and
outposts in northwestern Pakistan, began to pick up momentum at this time.
Concurrently, another low-level insurgency began in Balochistan. The leader of
the Baloch militants was Sardar Akbar Bugti, head of the Bugti tribe and a former
chief minister of the province before the 1973 insurgency. The Bugti tribe lived
near the Sui gas deposits in eastern Balochistan, and the tribesmen occasionally
attacked gas pipelines and electrical power transmission lines running through
their territory. An attack on a mosque in Quetta was linked to this renewed
Baloch insurgency. Because of the by-now rapidly deteriorating security situation,
Staff College field training was conducted in the training areas around Pishin on
only two occasions, each time with a robust military force providing security for
the students. Even student picnics at picturesque Hanna Lake, located only three
miles north of the military cantonment, merited a large security deployment.
Allied students were no longer “prisoners” on the Staff College compound,
but prior permission was needed to go into the city or any other location off
the cantonment. If the request was approved, a full security package would be
detailed to accompany them.185 Within two years, the increasing violence in
Quetta and the surrounding areas, mostly attributed to a group calling itself the
Baloch Liberation Front, made the city off limits to foreign and Pakistani students
alike. This created a degree of fear and apprehension among the Pakistani
students who were shocked at such restrictions on their own movement.186
No more field trips and no field training occurred during the course that year.
All college field exercises had to be done within the limits of the military
cantonment, a situation that continues today. By 2012-2013, allied students were
not allowed to travel off the Staff College compound to other parts of the military
cantonment without an armed escort. The Allied Student Coordinator explained

The Quetta Experience

that even though the military controlled all entrances into the cantonment, there
were many local businesses operating as concessions, and their clientele could
not always be completely vetted.187

Evolution of the Staff College Internal Security Curriculum

An examination of the 1982 Staff College syllabus showed a total of 45 periods
of instruction (or 30 hours; one period = 40 minutes) on various aspects of
internal security. Of this, only 13 periods were devoted to counterinsurgency
operations. The largest block of instruction, 22 periods, was allotted for
“mountain warfare,” which had a Kashmir setting and can thus be seen as an
adjunct to conventional military operations with an India focus. The remaining
time was allotted for guest speaker lectures, humanitarian operations, and
an orientation on the organization and employment of paramilitary forces.188
This remained the normal amount of time allotted to internal security for the
next decade, although additional subjects came and went in the syllabus
such as “frontier warfare,” operations by the paramilitary Frontier Corps to
curb tribal unrest in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the “B” areas
of Balochistan by the Frontier Corps and Baloch tribal levies.189 Despite the
immediacy of the two 1970s insurgencies in East Pakistan that had led to the
creation of Bangladesh and the even more recent Baloch insurgency, they were
not studied.
The curriculum changed incrementally in 1995 when a small block of
instruction on low intensity conflict (LIC) operations was added. The 1995
Student noted that in almost every discussion of internal security operations,
“They would borrow U.S. terminology and ways of doing things and just slap it
on top of their situation, and it just didn’t really work.” Late in that year, a U.S.
Army guest speaker on counterinsurgency operations, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph
Peters, was invited to the Staff College.190 He had earlier provided a briefing
on the subject to the Director General Military Intelligence, Major General Ali
Kuli Khan, a former Staff College Commandant, during a counterpart visit to
Washington that year. Ali, apparently realizing the need for new thinking in this
area, invited him to Pakistan to give a series of lectures at several Army schools
and to staff officers at GHQ in Rawalpindi. Peters’ theme was “The New Warrior,”
the emerging phenomenon of dissidents perverting traditional military values in
pursuit of an extremist agenda. A portion of the internal security curriculum that
year was also devoted to martial law and the provision of military assistance to
civil authorities.191 Two years later, the 1997 Student was intrigued by the lack
of recognition of the importance of military intelligence in counterinsurgency
operations. The typical view expressed by his classmates was that ISI performed
that function at the strategic level and the Army’s Military Intelligence Directorate
did it at the tactical level. Both intelligence organizations, however, were
David O. Smith

considered by the Pakistani students as “a place where you’d stick people who
couldn’t serve competently elsewhere.”192
Logically, the post-9/11 era should have been the impetus for major changes
in the college’s internal security curriculum, but very little changed initially in
either the curriculum or the student mindset. The 2003 Student was asked to
provide a briefing to his class about the United States approach to asymmetric
warfare based on the first two years of military operations in Afghanistan.
The only response by the students was to nod their heads occasionally, clap
politely at the end of the presentation, but to say nothing in response or ask
any questions. It seemed to him that the college’s attitude was that American
experience in Afghanistan had no relevance for the Pakistan Army. He
occasionally heard rhetoric about the need for a “carrot and stick approach” in
countering militants, and the need to provide economic support, roads, schools,
and local security forces, but concluded that the Pakistan Army had little interest
in emulating the counterinsurgency model the United States was following
in Afghanistan. The preferred alternative was low intensity conflict, or LIC, in
which kinetic operations were “front and center” and the objective was, as one
Pakistani student described it, “to just squash them [the militants].”193 The next
year, 2004, saw the conduct of division-sized military operations by the Pakistan
Army in North and South Waziristan Agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal
Areas (FATA) aimed at punishing Mehsud tribesmen who had ambushed Frontier
Corps units, attacked a major Army base in Wana, and were harboring numerous
foreign fighters, including Al Qaeda affiliates.194 Pakistani students who attended
the course after serving in the FATA in these operations indicated there was
“lots of uncertainty and confusion about how to do [COIN],” and described their
operations as moving into a contested area, more or less “hunkering down” in
one place, and rarely patrolling or moving very far away from their base camps.
Their units made little or no effort to expand their area of influence once they
moved into the area of operations. Only within a very circumscribed area around
the base camps was any concerted effort made to interact with local villagers
and build goodwill by drilling wells and improving roads. The Staff College
made no changes to the basic internal security curriculum, nor was there much
discussion of the operations in the syndicate rooms.195 In the next few years,
as Army casualties in the FATA steadily mounted, the operations continued to
be characterized as LIC operations, and the college stubbornly refused to use
the term “counterinsurgency,” apparently because of an ingrained reluctance
to admit that what was occurring in the FATA was different from the historical
norm of intermittent internecine tribal warfare. The FATA problem was blamed
on U.S. and NATO military operations in Afghanistan that drove foreign militants
into Pakistan. When these operations ceased, most students thought that
the problems in FATA would end automatically. No alternative explanations for

The Quetta Experience

Pakistan’s steadily growing internal security problem were entertained.196
Although the Staff College placed marginally more emphasis on internal
security operations in the 2007-2008 course, the real turning point came in
2009 when the internal security curriculum expanded to nearly five weeks and
almost daily discussion of the subject occurred in the syndicate rooms. This
change coincided with the breakdown of a controversial peace agreement struck
between the federal government and a militant group known as Tehrik-i-Namaz-i-
Sharia Muhammadi, or TNSM, in the Swat Division of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa
Province.197 Shortly afterward, TNSM militants seized control of several
districts in that division. In May, the Army launched a massive multi-division
operation to eject TNSM from the province. Many guest speakers, including the
visiting commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and several Pakistani division
commanders commanding units in the FATA, addressed the college on internal
security operations as well. A visit to the Army’s Lehri Range near Mangla, a new
facility built specifically to train units preparing to rotate into the FATA, was added
to the allied student tour that year, and the Faculty of Research and Doctrinal
Studies (FORADS) conducted oral history interviews of every Pakistani officer at
the Staff College that had fought in the FATA, as well as allied officers that had
served in Afghanistan or had counterinsurgency experience in other areas of
operations around the world. FORADS constantly produced papers on lessons
learned from insurgencies in countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal. The result was a
growing familiarity with U.S. Army doctrine and procedures by mid-level Pakistani
officers. The 2009-2010 Student believed his classmates were “more familiar
with U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine than me.” At the nearby School of Infantry
and Tactics the time devoted to LIC operations in the Young Officers Course,
Mid-Career Course, and Unit Commanders Course increased five-fold from 10
percent to nearly 50 percent in two years.198
This process accelerated when a new Commandant took charge in 2010.
He had previously commanded 9 Division, a unit that had been employed
extensively as part of a multi-divisional operation in late 2009 to eject Tehrik-
i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants from the South Waziristan Agency of the
FATA. An examination of the 2010-2011 Staff College weekly training schedules
showed 115 hours of training directly associated with LIC, plus six allotted to
UN peacekeeping operations. Nevertheless, the majority of training conducted
during the year was still devoted to conventional operations with an obvious
India focus.199 The internal security emphasis continued to be on LIC rather than
counterinsurgency. The 2010-2011 Student B laughed when he recalled there was
“never an insurgent” anywhere in Pakistan, only “miscreants, dacoits [criminals
who robbed people along rural roads], and criminal elements” because no one at
the Staff College dared to admit that Pakistani citizens were disgruntled enough
to take up arms against the government, thus, there could never be a genuine

David O. Smith

insurgency in Pakistan. The Staff College dropped the use of LIC that year,
preferring instead to characterize internal security operations as sub-conventional
warfare, or SCW, although the focus continued to be on kinetic operations
with little emphasis on winning the hearts and minds of the local populace. The
preferred tactic with respect to the local civilian population was to evacuate them
from the planned area of operations so that anyone remaining behind when
the Army moved in would be considered fair game for attack. In the case of the
2009 South Waziristan operation that he had participated in, the Commandant
admitted that about 70 percent of the population in South Waziristan Agency was
internally displaced more than a year after the combat phase of the operation
According to several Students, a large portion of the internal security doctrine
taught from 2011 to 2013 was extracted directly from U.S. counterinsurgency
manuals. Although the U.S. “clear, hold, and build” counterinsurgency model
called for military operations to clear and protect areas from militant activities
before turning responsibility for local security over to civilian authorities, the
Pakistan students admitted this method could not possibly work in the FATA.
No government offices, courts, or police forces existed there due to the area’s
special legal status in the Pakistani Constitution.201 Even in the “settled areas”
of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, there were problems because the police and
other civilian law enforcement entities were hopelessly corrupt and ineffective.
The role of the Pakistan Army in actual practice, therefore, was limited to the
“clear and hold” portion of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine. This required the
Army to conduct kinetic operations to kill or expel the militants from an area,
and then to remain in place indefinitely to prevent their return, a practice that
had tied down a large part of the Army in South Waziristan Agency since 2009.
The major SCW exercise scenario at the Staff College for the last three years
had been for students to plan a campaign to defeat militants in a notional section
of South Waziristan Agency. The Students were assigned exercise roles as the
commander of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
Since ISAF was assumed to be a cooperating partner in the operation, it
was requested during the exercise to seal the border [the Durand Line] to
contain the militants on the Pakistan side and prevent any reinforcement from
the Afghanistan side. As the exercises unfolded, the focus of the operation
developed into large-scale kinetic operations to kill or eject the militants from
the battle area. Both exercises ended with responsibility for local security in
the cleared area being handed over to the paramilitary Frontier Scouts. Several
Pakistani students openly complained to the DS sponsoring the exercise that this
was unrealistic, and not what had actually happened in recent FATA operations
where the Army never relinquished control over cleared territory and the Frontier
Scouts operated only as an auxiliary force under its control.202

The Quetta Experience

Evolution in the Perception of Extremist Groups

From the beginning of the study until the beginning of the 1990s, few concerns
were expressed by students about the potential internal security threat to
Pakistan from domestic or external extremist groups. There had been endemic
tribal unrest in the FATA and isolated incidents of communal and sectarian
violence in parts of Pakistan ever since independence, but these were
considered as problems to be managed rather than serious threats to the
existence of the state.
Three discrete events that occurred in 1989 and 1990 heralded the beginning
of a steady erosion of the internal security situation in Pakistan. The first was the
withdrawal of the Soviet Union from Afghanistan and the descent of Afghanistan
into a prolonged period of convulsive civil war between rival mujahideen factions.
This resulted in a “blowback” into Pakistan of what is frequently described as
the growth of a “Kalashinikov culture” of drug trafficking, lawlessness, and the
influence of radical religious groups. The second event was the spontaneous
uprising of the Muslim population in the Indian-held portion of the disputed
Kashmir territory that was quickly leveraged by ISI using militant groups like
Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) that they originally supported during the Afghan jihad as a
“proxy” to fight the Soviet Union. The third event began as a political struggle
between Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the
Muhajir Quami Movement (MQM) party of Altaf Hussain for control of Sindh and
its capital city, Karachi. This ultimately morphed into an internecine fight between
two factions of the MQM (one created by ISI), and later morphed again into a
virtual civil war with city-wide ethnic and sectarian dimensions.203
Afghanistan-Focused Militant Groups. In the 1980s, Saudi money and
U.S. arms were channeled by ISI almost exclusively to seven Islamic groups
of mujahideen fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. As the Soviets began
withdrawing in 1988 there was “an unsettled feeling” about what might happen
next. The overwhelming perception among Pakistani students at the time was
that the seven designated groups were so grateful for Pakistani support they
would cooperate with Pakistan in setting up the future government in Kabul.
There was no perception that the groups would ever become a future threat to
Pakistan.204 Later, when the Taliban movement emerged in southern Afghanistan
in 1994, they similarly did not perceive that it might evolve into a military threat
to Pakistan. If anything, it was considered to be a “net plus if it improved
security” and helped stabilize Afghanistan. Better security in Afghanistan would
end the inflow of additional Afghan refugees and enable many who had been in
Pakistan since the early 1980s to return home. The millions of Afghan refugees
that had flooded into Pakistan were viewed as a potential long-term economic
problem, but not as a major security issue. Occasionally, students at the Staff

David O. Smith

College expressed concern about the numerous madrassas, or religious schools,
founded by Saudi Arabia and by Islamic charities based in the Persian Gulf.
These had been useful during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union as a
mechanism to recruit mujahideen fighters. But these schools had also elevated
the status of mullahs in Pashtun society and diluted the influence of traditional
tribal leaders. This situation was blamed on the United States, which had always
been short-sighted in pursuing its aims in the region. 205 In the post 9/11 era,
Pakistani students explicitly and consistently denied the presence of the Afghan
Taliban Senior Leadership (the “Quetta Shura” of Mullah Omar) in Quetta or
anywhere else in Balochistan, although it became apparent they drew a mental
distinction between good and bad militant groups, those that were friends of
Pakistan and those that were enemies. The term “miscreant,” a translation of
an Urdu word meaning “enemy,” was invariably used to describe the targets of
Pakistan Army operations in the FATA. Asked which groups they considered to be
miscreants, the Pakistani students typically identified only TTP and TNSM. Other
militant groups in the FATA and northern Balochistan like Al Qaeda, the Haqqani
Network, and the Afghan Taliban senior leadership were not viewed as unfriendly
to Pakistan, and the general attitude was that “If they’re not bothering us, let
them be.” 206
Kashmir-Focused Militant Groups. From 1989 to the present there has been
widespread support in Pakistan for the freedom struggle of the majority Muslim
population in the disputed Kashmir territory.207 Pakistani policy under General Zia
during the 1980s was to “freeze” the Kashmir issue with India while Pakistan
confronted the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1988, Indian-held Kashmir was
still relatively tranquil despite occasional clashes between Indian and Pakistani
forces on the remote Siachin Glacier in the far north along the Chinese border.
During a guest presentation on Kashmir, the 1989 Student asked the speaker
why he thought the Muslim population in Indian-held Kashmir had not mounted
an intifada–style protest against Indian authorities like the Palestinians were
then doing in the West Bank against Israel. Within a few weeks of his question,
an indigenous uprising of Muslims in Kashmir began. The general attitude of the
Pakistani students was that Kashmiris were “Islamic brothers” meriting strong
moral and diplomatic support.208 Five years later, any discussion at the Staff
College about Pakistan’s involvement in their struggle against India was “totally
off base.” Although Pakistani students admitted that Kashmir-focused militant
groups like Lashkar-i-Taiba recruited freely in Punjab and trained their cadres
in camps in northern Pakistan, they never openly acknowledged ISI support
for LeT or other extremist groups or admitted that such support might lead
India to retaliate against Pakistan elsewhere. Militant groups like Let were not
considered to be a threat to Pakistan.209 Yet the danger posed by such groups
was vividly illustrated in December 2001 when a terrorist attack on the Indian

The Quetta Experience

parliament building in New Delhi provoked the 2001-2002 border crisis with India.
Under strong U.S. diplomatic pressure, General Musharraf announced an end
to ISI support of LeT and similar groups and formally banned that organization
in January 2002. Officially, according to the 2002 Student, “They [the Pakistani
students] always disavowed it, but there was always an understanding that the
government continued to support those groups.”210 The dispute with India over
Kashmir was considered a political issue, not a military issue. Most students
categorically blamed India for the Kashmir problem, but a few occasionally
recognized that some of the fault might be Pakistan’s as well. Even after the
dramatic 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack by LeT (which continued to operate
after the 2002 “official” ban simply by changing its name), Pakistani students
continued to believe it posed little to no threat to Pakistan. The most common
attitude heard by the Students was that the groups were not bothering anyone
but India, so “we don’t bother them.” 211 The most candid comment about
the positive use of militants to gain Pakistani objectives was made during the
2010-2011 course by the Commandant, an ethnic Kashmiri. While summing up
the major lessons of a major SCW exercise that year, he made this comment:
“We have our own insurgents, and, if need be, we can use them.” The Student
initially thought he must have misspoken, but after consulting with other
Western students who were similarly surprised to hear such a candid admission,
realized he had heard him quite correctly.212
Karachi Groups. The growing level of violence in the commercial center of
Karachi that began in 1989-1990 was a major topic of discussion in syndicate
rooms throughout 1995. That year, the country’s most important investigative
news magazine, The Herald, labeled Karachi “The City of Death.” Two factions
of the Muhajir Quami Movement (MQM) political party were fighting each other,
one having been created and supported by the ISI as a hedge against the main
party led by a now-exiled leader, Altaf Hussain. Pakistan’s Minister of Interior,
Major General (ret) Naseerullah Babar, seemed determined to crush the MQM in
a “no holds barred” manner with large police and paramilitary forces. There were
allegations in the press of “disappeared” militants. Many Pakistanis students
that had served in military units stationed in Karachi opined that urban warfare
was not something the Army was trained to do—or should be doing—because
it was “too political,” and because the ISI was very clearly involved.213 Other
than making occasional references to fighting in built-up areas in the context of
conventional offensive and defensive operations, the Staff College curriculum has
never included urban warfare techniques.
Pakistan-Focused Militant Groups. The 2004 operation undertaken by the
Army in the FATA was designed to punish tribal groups decidedly hostile to
the Pakistani state. Pakistani students were reluctant to discuss their combat
experiences or the various peace agreements that had been struck by the Army

David O. Smith

with the Mehsuds, a prominent Pashtun tribe in North and South Waziristan
Agencies of the FATA, which became the core of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
(TTP) coalition of militant groups. Their view of the FATA was that it was
Pakistan’s equivalent of the “wild west” in America. The Pashtuns living there
had their own code of behavior, and it was folly for outsiders to try to change it.
A few years after he graduated, the 2006 Student returned to Pakistan for duty
at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. There he met four Pakistani classmates that
were then serving in the FATA. He noted a palpable “sense of fear in all four
of them.” After recounting the many deaths among their classmates in these
operations, one admitted he rarely left his base camp because of the danger
from militant attacks. All four admitted the Army was unprepared for this new
situation and that the internal threat to Pakistan was far greater than they had
thought it was in 2006.214
A major shift in the attitude of Pakistani students about the internal security
threat seemed to occur in 2009 prior to the onset of the major Army operation
to clear the Swat Valley and South Waziristan Agency of TTP and TNSM militants
that had seized full control in those areas. The Army’s operations badly damaged
the groups, but did not completely eliminate them, and large remnants had
crossed the Durand Line into Afghanistan. The students now seemed more
willing to acknowledge that the Afghan Taliban Senior Leadership (TBSL) and
other Afghan-focused groups operated from Pakistani territory to attack ISAF
forces in Afghanistan, but they stressed that the Pakistan Army lacked the
capacity to deal with them at the same time it was fighting TTP and TNSM. Those
groups would have to be dealt with later. They no longer differentiated between
various good and bad militant groups. “All bad guys threaten us and our troops”
became a common refrain. The students also began to worry that a grand
coalition of militant groups would represent a grave existential threat to Pakistan
and that the Army might not be able to contain it. Rife with irony, the students
also complained about TTP and TNSM sanctuaries across the Durand Line in
Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan Provinces.215
The next year, 2010, the Students estimated that approximately 75 percent
of their classmates had served in FATA, and the rest expected to go there
immediately after the course. The predominant view was that militancy in Swat
had been completely subdued, the situation in Balochistan was “under control,”
and the South Waziristan Agency operation that had commenced in late 2009
was a great success. There remained growing concern about the deteriorating
internal security situation in the “settled areas” of Pakistan. The problems of
the FATA seemingly had spread to the larger provinces of Punjab and Sindh, as
they had earlier in the Swat Valley. The 2010-2011 Student A’s student sponsor
admitted to him late in the course that he thought internal security in Punjab
and Sindh was a bigger problem for Pakistan than the Indian military. The DS did

The Quetta Experience

not share this view, but then not as many DS had served in the FATA as their
students.216 In the next class, this view was even more apparent with several
Pakistani students opining that the internal security threat posed by extremist
groups in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA had finally surpassed the external
threat posed by India. Many students had served in both areas. A few were
missing limbs, and several others wore the gold wound badge (equivalent to the
U.S. military Purple Heart). India was still considered to be the more important
long-term threat to the country, but the militant groups attacking the state were
a major short-term threat requiring immediate action.217 The 2012-2013 Student
A opined that Pakistani students that had served in combat operations in Swat
and the FATA considered that the internal security threat to Pakistan was
more significant than the external threat posed by India. He estimated that 60
percent thought this way compared to only 40 percent that viewed India as a
more dangerous threat. Even his first term DS saw the internal threat as more
significant because Pakistan could not hope to deal adequately with an Indian
military threat in the east until peace was achieved in the western tribal areas in
the west.218
Baloch Militant Groups. Concern about these groups increased in the last
decade of the study as the security environment in the Quetta area steadily
deteriorated. A low-level insurgency gained strength in Balochistan in 2004. The
2004 Student’s classmates considered the insurgency to be a minor nuisance
that could be contained with only a slight military effort. Most thought a political
settlement, such as had been obtained in the earlier insurgency from 1973
to 1978, was the inevitable solution.219 But when Sardar Bugti was killed in
April 2006 during a controversial Pakistan Army operation, several Pakistani
students were visibly upset. His death at the hands of the Army, they said,
only made him a martyr in the eyes of the Baloch people and would provoke
more violence against the Army and paramilitary forces. When Bugti’s grandson
fled across the border into Afghanistan and found sanctuary there, as Bugti
tribal dissidents had done a generation earlier, attention turned to other, more
violent groups thought to be responsible for the increasing violence in Quetta.
The Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) was blamed for many terrorist attacks in
Quetta and other provincial cities, although some students mentioned Al Qaeda
as possibly being responsible. Mostly, however, the blame for all militant Baloch
activity was ascribed to the Indian Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW, ISI’s
counterpart strategic intelligence organization, which was widely considered
to be actively fomenting disturbances in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
This, more than any legitimate grievances the Baloch might have against the
Pakistan government, was ascribed as the principal cause of the internal security
problem in Balochistan. Some students also thought Baloch militancy was being

David O. Smith

supported by the United States because of Balochistan’s potential gas and coal

Other Attitudes about Internal Security

Extra-Judicial Killing (EJK) of Captured Militants. After 2009, the Students noted
a high level of frustration with Pakistan’s judicial system because of its seeming
inability to successfully prosecute militants captured during Army operations.
Many had been released for lack of evidence or other legal technicalities. They
were universally considered to be a threat not only to the soldiers that had
captured them, but to their families that were even more vulnerable. Therefore,
any miscreants killed during military operations were thought to have “deserved
it,” although few students would openly admit that extra-judicial killing was an
accepted practice in the Pakistan Army. One DS advised the students in his
syndicate that if they had to do it (kill a captured militant), to be sure not to
report it to any higher authority. A student in a different syndicate also advised
his classmates to “just kill them and bury them” without telling anyone about it.
On another occasion, a Pakistani student asked a guest speaker discussing the
problems associated with bringing captured militants to trial, “Why can’t we just
kill them?” He was silenced in mid-question by the Commandant and later was
ordered to report to the Commandant’s office. The general consensus seemed to
be that EJK was a useful tool to eliminate militants, but that it had to be used as
discreetly as possible.221
Civilian Collateral Damage. Nearly every Pakistani student complained
about the U.S. use of unattended aerial vehicle (UAV), or “drone,” strikes in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). However, during Exercise Fading
Shadows, the annual SCW war game, when armed UAVs were made available
to them for exercise purposes, they were employed liberally to kill militants.
They also used artillery indiscriminately when attacking villages or built-up areas.
The typical attitude about civilian collateral damage was that it was “God’s will”
if civilian casualties resulted from Pakistani military operations. One Student
thought this mindset was “crude” and likened it to “[U.S.] COIN without the
hearts and minds component.”222


During the study period, Pakistan experienced two military coups followed by
lengthy periods of military rule, two restorations of civilian governance, and six
elected civilian governments, only one of which completed a full five-year term
of office, the only such time this has occurred in Pakistan’s history. The attitudes

The Quetta Experience

of Pakistani students toward state institutions were remarkably consistent during
the entire study period and revealed a clear preference for civilian governance in
theory but an equally clear disdain for it in practice. A similar attitude, though not
as intense, was held about military rule, which was looked upon as sometimes
necessary to guarantee the viability of Pakistan as a sovereign state, but which
diminished the Army’s professionalism the longer it remained in place.

Attitudes toward Military Governance, Part I

The 1977 Student recalled very little discussion in the syndicate rooms about the
country’s deteriorating political situation in the first half of 1977. In his opinion,
it seemed as if the Army was totally “apolitical.” After the news broke about
General Zia’s coup in July, “It was hard to measure the degree of elation of
everyone.” The depth of anger at the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party immediately
became apparent when no Pakistani student objected to the coup. The only
derogatory thing he heard about it was that it had taken General Zia far too long
to remove the prime minister. Many students considered the Bhutto government
to have “run the country into the ground.” It had weakened the economy, ruined
foreign relations with key allies, and was generally venal and corrupt. Almost
everyone was optimistic that things would be better for the country in the future.
Later, when Zia abrogated his promise to hold a general election within 90 days
of taking power, a few students were surprised, but the majority retained their
earlier optimism about the future. Many thought the Army would actually benefit
as an institution because “now we have a friend (Zia) in court.”223 Soon, all the
provinces had serving corps commanders deal-hatted as military governors, and
all major state institutions were being overseen by a newly created organization,
the Martial Law Administration (MLA). The media was censored by the
government and no criticism of the government or General Zia was allowed.
Five years later, almost nothing had changed politically and Zia was
universally perceived as being in power indefinitely. Because he spent a lot of
time and attention on taking care of the Army’s needs, most students thought
it was a good time for them after many bad times before Zia. It was permissible
to criticize past leaders, i.e., that Field Marshal Ayub Khan had stayed in power
too long, or that General Yahya Khan was largely responsible for the debacle in
1971, but no one could openly criticize Zia without paying a penalty. In private
conversations, Pakistani students occasionally criticized the MLA as a corrupting
influence on those officers assigned to it. Over time, they neglected their duties,
used alcohol, and knew how to get luxury goods and scarce commodities
their peers could not afford. Students fresh from service in regular units were
appalled by their lack of discipline and professionalism. In short, the MLA was
widely considered a place no truly professional officer wished to serve. Some
of the civilians in Quetta were occasionally even more critical of the Army. The
David O. Smith

senior police official in the province was scathing and contemptuous in his
assessment of the Army, once telling the 1982 Student that it had only won one
war in its history, the one it was constantly waging against the Pakistani people.
The Staff College curriculum did not specifically address martial law governance
or civil-military relations. Democratic governance was seen as a desirable end
state, but the most commonly expressed attitude was that Pakistan was not
ready for Western-style democracy because the civilian politicians were too
corrupt and venal and the people too uneducated. While democracy might
work in established political systems like those of the United States and the
United Kingdom, the Pakistani people were not yet ready for it and were more
comfortable with an authoritarian system.224
Five years later, and now in his 10th year of military rule, President (but still
General and COAS) Zia still made most of the key decisions, although a civilian
prime minister “elected” in a non-party election now ran the government on
a day-to-day basis. Some students spoke favorably about Benazir Bhutto and
thought the PPP was an acceptable alternative to the military government. No
one criticized her as not being equal to the task of leading Pakistan or feared that
she might do something harmful to the Army. Were she to do so, they expected
the Army would simply step back in and fix whatever was wrong. The general
expectation was that if Bhutto returned from exile, she would eventually win a
general election and become prime minister. But it didn’t really matter who the
prime minister was because President Zia would still dictate how the country
was to be run. The civilians would run the civilian side of the government and Zia
would control the Army and national security.225

Attitudes toward Civilian Governance, Part I

The year 1989 was a transition year from 11 years of military rule to civilian
governance under freely elected Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Reaction to
General Zia’s death in an airplane crash was “muted” at the Staff College. Many
students expressed surprise that the Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Mirza
Aslam Beg, who became the acting Chief of Army Staff, had not immediately
imposed martial law. Many students and even some very senior Army officers
thought Beg had done the right thing. The Commander of 4 Corps in Lahore
admitted privately to the 1989 Student that it was time for the Army to get out
of politics and get back to professional activities. For other military officers, there
was a “collective sigh of relief” when they heard the news of Zia’s death. They
were sensitive to the reputation of the Army in Pakistani society, and believed
that after 11 years in power, Zia had “worn out his welcome” and it was time to
return the country to civilian rule. A November 1988 general election resulted
in an overwhelming victory for the PPP, which won 94 seats in the 237-seat
National Assembly, 38 more than its closest rival. With the addition of the
The Quetta Experience

ethnically based MQM party and seats reserved for women and minorities, she
easily formed a governing majority coalition. Despite a history of poor relations
with the PPP and long memories of its role in deposing Bhutto’s father in 1977,
the Army was unwilling to oppose the freely expressed national will. Pakistani
students at the Staff College enthusiastically supported the election process, and
many expressed pride that a Muslim country had finally elected a female leader,
as neighboring India and Sri Lanka had done. The Army took a large measure of
credit for setting the conditions for the return to civilian government, going so far
as to award a “support to democracy” medal to every officer on active duty at
the time of the transition.226
Unfortunately for Pakistan, the next 11 years would see four consecutive
“failed” civilian governments, two under Bhutto and two under her arch-political
rival, Nawaz Sharif. The first three of these governments were removed by
President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, who had the authority under the 1973 Constitution
to dismiss the prime minister and dissolve the government for almost any
reason, and the last government was forcibly removed by a military coup in
1999. The pattern was the same for all four: each one entered office pledging
to rule fairly and democratically; after 18 months or so it came to be seen as
increasingly corrupt, bent on punishing its opponents, and aggregating more and
more power to itself; and eventually the point came when it was shown the door
either by the president of Pakistan or the chief of army staff. Political power was
fragmented between an informal “troika” of three actors—the prime minister,
the president, and the chief of army staff. These events seemed to harden
the attitudes toward democratic governance that had been expressed by Staff
College students in the Zia years—that civilian politicians were venal and corrupt,
and that while democracy was a worthy goal, Pakistan was simply not ready for
Many Pakistani students during this turbulent period continued to have a
highly favorable view of military rule, but seemed to feel the country wasn’t
ready for another round of it. A major topic of discussion in the syndicate rooms
became the 1973 Constitution and the controversial 8th Amendment inserted by
Zia as a way for the country’s executive authority to control the parliament and
elected prime minister. According to the 1993 Student,

They [Pakistani students] were always talking about the
Constitution. They all knew a lot about it. Even I learned about it
when I was there. I thought it was a healthy debate. There was
some discussion about how the Army could take over some
governmental functions in order to help the civilian government,
but no one wanted martial law because it ruined the army.227

David O. Smith

Martial law “soiled the army” by fostering corruption within the ranks.
However bad the civilian government might be, many students thought they
needed to keep the civilians in charge because it “buffered them” from
contamination and was necessary “to keep the Army above the fray.”228 Amid the
political turmoil, most Pakistani students by 1994 thought the country was finally
moving in a positive direction. It had survived a recent political crisis between the
president and prime minister in which both were compelled by the chief of army
staff to resign, and a subsequent general election had brought back into power a
presumably chastened and humbled Benazir Bhutto. She was seen as a person
who might bring economic benefits to the country and improve its international
standing. There had been no major political or military crisis with India for
the past four years and no problems with India were seen on the horizon.
Additionally, many in the Army recognized that the United States was attempting
to improve its relations with Pakistan in spite of the Pressler sanctions and was
signaling the value of improved military-to-military relations.229
By 1996, well into Bhutto’s second tenure, the optimism had begun to fade
noticeably, as had any semblance of respect for her personally. During a visit
to the Staff College, she addressed the students in the main auditorium and
agreed to answer questions from the students. One Pakistani student asked
her to name her most significant contribution to Pakistan, ending the question
by rudely advising her not to mention electricity or telephone rates as major
accomplishments. At that instant, the Commandant flipped a switch on his
chair that showed a red light to the audience (but not the speaker). This was
the signal that no more questions were allowed. The 1996 Student thought the
incident showed a very high level of disdain for the prime minister, and thought
it was significant that the officer asking the question obviously did not mind
demonstrating his contempt for her in front of the DS and senior officers. This
was hardly an isolated opinion. The universal view of students was that the
civilian governments of both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, her immediate
predecessor, were “worthless and corrupt.” They and all other civilian politicians
of all parties were despised for their corruption and unwillingness to put the
country’s interest ahead of their own. He was told by his student sponsor that
Bhutto was planning a second shipment of gold—presumably there had been a
first shipment—from Pakistan to an unknown foreign destination. The politicians,
he said, were “ruining the country.”230
By the end of the year, Bhutto was dismissed for the second time by her
own hand-picked president, Farooq Leghari, and Nawaz Sharif won a massive
parliamentary majority in the general election of 1997. His first official act was
to change the country’s work week to conform to western business practices,
from Monday through Friday instead of the former Sunday through Thursday, a
move that was applauded at the Staff College. Nawaz’s popularity faded rapidly

The Quetta Experience

when he used his massive parliamentary majority to amend the constitution
to eviscerate the president’s authority to oust the prime minister. He further
amended it to make it illegal for any member of the National Assembly to change
his political affiliation, effectively making permanent his party’s parliamentary
majority. After these actions, any sense of optimism faded and the students
quickly became as critical of Nawaz as they had been of Bhutto. Still, according
to the 1997 Student, nearly all the students rejected the notion of another
military coup despite their unhappiness with the Nawaz government. Because
Pakistan seemingly had tried the other ways and failed (referring to both military
rule and democratic rule), one Pakistani student opined that Pakistan should
consider a third way, the Iranian theocratic form of government. He told the
Student that “at least the Iranians can look at themselves with honor.” Like
Iran, Pakistan had tried governing itself in the western way and failed. Iran had
developed a new way of governing itself and despite its subsequent international
isolation, had survived.231

Attitudes toward Military Governance, Part II

Nawaz overreached in October 1999 when he tried to fire Chief of Army Staff
General Pervez Musharraf while he was in Sri Lanka visiting his counterpart Army
chief. He had earlier fired Musharraf’s predecessor, General Jehangir Karamat,
and the idea of firing two chiefs in a row was too much for the Army to stomach.
Additionally, after 11 years of civilian governance, the country was in an economic
shambles. The coup was widely applauded, with many people passing out
sweets to passersby in the streets after the news broke. A benevolent military
dictator like Musharraf seemed much more preferable to most Pakistanis than
corrupt civilians like Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto. The 2002 Student thought
both the students and the DS supported military rule: “Ninety-five percent or
higher approved of Musharraf and saw military rule as essential.” Nearly all the
Pakistani students claimed to want democracy in Pakistan, he thought, but they
were unsure that it could ever meet Western standards of governance. They
were contemptuous of the former civilian government and thought Musharraf
had saved the country from ruin. Pakistan, many claimed, was not yet ready for
Western democratic institutions and required a strong military hand at the helm
for many years. Many expressed admiration for the Turkish model of civil-military
relations in which the army played a behind-the-scenes constitutional role in the
affairs of the state, reflecting a view often mentioned by Musharraf himself.232

Attitudes toward Civilian Governance, Part II

Like his predecessor, Musharraf similarly overreached by trying to pressure
the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court to resign in 2007. When the chief
justice refused to step down, the resulting political agitation led Musharraf to
David O. Smith

declare a state of emergency in November 2007, and to relinquish the post of
Chief of Army Staff. Ultimately he was forced within a year to resign as president
and go into exile in the United Kingdom. After a general election in 2008, the PPP
returned to power under Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of the deceased Benazir
Bhutto and inheritor of the family’s political mantle. She had been assassinated
the year before, and many Pakistanis blamed Musharraf. By this time there was
little enthusiasm at the Staff College either for Musharraf or the new president.
Most students thought Zardari was a “terrible human being, a crook, Mr. Ten
Percent, etc.” The leader of the opposition, Nawaz Sharif, having returned from
exile in Saudi Arabia to contest the 2008 general election, was also viewed as
corrupt, but not as egregiously so as Zardari. Most students at the Staff College
continued to express a desire for genuine democracy and the rule of law. They
considered the nascent Lawyers Movement that had played a major role in
forcing Musharraf to resign to be a good thing, expressing the belief that the
Army should no longer rule the country. Democracy was seen as a positive goal,
but many noted it had taken the Unites States 200 years to perfect its system.
As they saw it, the political system in Pakistan was still in a state of flux.233
Although the Zadari government eventually became the first civilian government
in Pakistan’s history to finish a full five-year term, the attitude expressed by most
students was summarized by the 2010-2011 Student B, who observed that the
average Pakistani student probably hated India more than he hated President
Zardari, “but not by much.” His classmates didn’t think the government had the
capacity or will to do what was required to provide for the needs of the people
of Pakistan, therefore, the Army would always be required to play a major role
in domestic affairs. Most political leaders were “immense buffoons” and only
the Army could be counted on to hold the state together. They believed the
Army didn’t always want to run the country, but recognized it was often left with
little choice.234 During a visit by Prime Minister Raza Gilani to the Staff College,
the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, was also in the audience. He
appeared to be taking a nap during the presentation, a clear sign to the students
that he considered the prime minister unworthy of his attention. He later heard
one of the DS say afterward, “He [Gilani] would not be worthy to be my batman
In the run-up to another general election in May 2013, most Pakistani
students seemed to favor Imran Khan, the captain of Pakistan’s 1992 world
champion cricket team, who had founded his own political party as an alternative
to the two mainstream political parties that had dominated Pakistani politics for
40 years. Asked why they supported him, the most common reply was simply
that he was “different,” he was a fresh face in politics, had youth and charisma,
and was untainted by any hint of scandal or corruption. The Commandant urged
every Pakistani officer to vote in the election, noting it would be the first time

The Quetta Experience

that he would be voting in one, and the Staff College designated voting officers
to explain absentee voting procedures. When former Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif won the largest share of seats, the students were hopeful that “maybe
he has learned from his mistakes,” and “the third time’s a charm,” referring to
his two previous terms in office. Despite their apparent distaste for Zardari,
everyone was happy that a government had finally completed a full five-year
term and that the election had been free and fair. Few had any illusions about
the politicians elected to the National Assembly. All office holders at every level
were generally considered to be crooks that looked out for themselves instead
of doing what was good for the country, and the situation was considered even
worse at the provincial level. While many had positive feelings about Chief
Justice of the Supreme Court Iftikar Muhammad Chaudhry at the beginning
of the year, such sentiments quickly faded when his son was implicated in a
corruption case. Most decried the absence of any rule of law in Pakistan and held
that any judge could be bribed or swayed by personal relationships.236

Attitudes Toward Senior Army Leaders

While the consistent attitude about the Pakistan Army remained positive
throughout the study period, the views expressed of many of its chiefs,
especially the two who led military regimes, often changed dramatically.
Muhammad Zia ul Haq. The initial attitude toward former President Zia
after he died in a 1988 plane crash was reverential. He was seen as a symbol
of strong, effective government and many students thought his death was
engineered by the United States. When asked if it seemed reasonable to think
the United States would also kill its own ambassador and a senior U.S. military
officer in order to kill Zia, they shrugged, “Why not?” Zia was not then being
castigated for having begun the “Islamization” of the army. Many students
joked among themselves about the need to be seen going to the mosque on
Fridays, but no one seemed to think the country needed or wanted “more
Islam than more democracy.”237 Years later, the 1996 Student thought there was
“almost a disdain” for past military governments, with many students realizing
that 11 years of military rule under the Zia regime had done great harm to the
country. Zia had “appeased” the religious elements in the country and had been
instrumental in creating a “society of fear” that was steadily growing in the
country. Possibly because of the 1995 Rawalpindi conspiracy in which several
officers had plotted to kill the chief of army staff and install an Islamist caliphate,
“He [Zia] was getting hammered pretty openly at this time….and there was also
a relook at Jinnah who, they thought, hadn’t wanted the sort of Islamic state Zia
had tried to build….There were numerous opinions expressed that they wanted
what Jinnah had talked about, not what Zia had delivered.”238

David O. Smith

Jehangir Karamat. An illustration of how fast a chief of army staff can
lose the support of the officer corps is illustrated by the changing attitude
toward General Jehangir Karamat. The 1996 Student considered that he was
generally well liked and respected as a highly intelligent officer and professional
soldier. When he visited the Staff College at the end of the 1997 course, the
1997 Student was shocked at how disrespectful his classmates were in their
conversations about him. They apparently thought he was not doing enough to
protect the Army as an institution from the government’s increasing pressure on
the military.239 They also considered him to be too close to the United States,
“a lackey,” perhaps because he was a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and
General Staff College at Leavenworth. “When he came to visit the Staff College,
the buzz amongst the students was very critical, nothing I would have expected
in the United States toward a Chief of Army Staff.”240
Pervez Musharraf. Although there was occasional criticism of Musharraf
in the years after 9/11 for hewing too closely to the United States, there was
also recognition of the enormous pressure he had been under to do so. He was
also friendly and very accessible at the Staff College, visiting on two occasions
in 2004 and even spending three consecutive days there in 2005 during the
institution’s centenary celebration. In these years, the attitude of the DS and
student toward his military and political leadership was positive. Every student
saw the Pakistan Army as the principal institution in the country and believed
the country might fail without at least some degree of Army tutelage. They
expressed a great deal of faith in the Army senior leadership to correctly assess
Pakistan’s national security objectives and how best to achieve them. Most didn’t
believe the newly installed civilian government was ready “to go it alone,” and
that it wouldn’t be able to do so for a long time. They believed in a “natural cycle”
of politics in Pakistan in which the Army had to step in occasionally to rectify the
civilian government’s corruption and to get the country back on the right path.241
After his resignation and departure from Pakistan, Musharraf’s role in events
came under more critical scrutiny. Students at the Staff College in 2009 openly
criticized his handling of the failed Kargil operation a decade earlier. While most
students reflexively blamed India for starting the 1965 and 1971 wars, Kargil
was different. Both the DS and students admitted the operation was “our fault
and our mistake,” with most blaming it directly on Musharraf.242 The 2011-2012
Student A was surprised to hear so much criticism leveled against him. The
general consensus of opinion was that he was a good military leader, but a poor
politician. His poor political judgment had led to his own downfall and opened the
door to the many problems that now plagued the country.243
Ashfaq Kayani. General Ashfaq Kayani became Chief of Army Staff in
November 2007 in very difficult circumstances. His predecessor, Musharraf,

The Quetta Experience

had held the position for eight years and given it up only under strong political
pressure. The reputation of the Army was tarnished, not only because of its
association with Musharraf, but by its poor performance in fighting militants in
the FATA and the high casualty rate it was suffering. The disdain the country
initially had expressed toward Musharraf was now aimed squarely at the
Army itself. It was regularly criticized “for kowtowing to the United States”
on terrorism issues. Soldiers’ bodies being returned to their home village for
burial were at times being denied burial by their local Imams because they had
been killed while fighting other Muslims. The attitude of the Pakistani students
at the Staff College was much different. His first two years in office, when he
inaugurated the year of the soldier and the year training, were seen favorably.
He was considered to be sincerely interested in the welfare of the Army in
general and especially the lower ranking soldiers, or jawans, in particular.244 The
events of 2011 that were described earlier were very stressful for the military’s
senior officers, but the students seemingly attached little blame to Kayani for
the military’s inability to safeguard Pakistani sovereignty after the U.S. raid in
Abbottabad. They “circled the wagons” around him after he visited the Staff
College in the wake of the Salala border incident in November 2011. They also
emphasized that he was committed to making the civilian government work, and
had anyone else but Kayani been COAS, the Zardari-Gilani government would
have been replaced long ago. Finally, he cared deeply about soldiers and was
a good steward of the Army as an institution.245 As the political government
lurched toward the end of its term, many students openly said the Army ought
to have replaced the corrupt Zardari regime years ago. It (and Kayani) had done
the country and democracy in general “a favor” by not doing so and allowing the
government to finish a full five-year term in office. Most students now thought
the country was at its most successful when the Army was in charge, although
many criticized the Islamization of the country during Zia’s time. There was little
discussion about the military’s vast business empire and no one was critical of
its system of awarding land to military officers, which was universally considered
to be a form of deferred payment for their extraordinary personal sacrifices for
the good of the country. There was also no mention of the alleged corruption of
General Kayani’s younger brothers.246

Attitudes about the Media

During the first decade of the study period, the Pakistani media was under tight
censorship by Zia’s Martial Law Administration. In any case, there was very little
to censor in those years besides the newspapers, with only one government-
run television channel and a radio service to monitor. After Zia’s death, even the
civilian governments carefully proscribed what their political opponents could
write about them and what they allowed the government media to report about
David O. Smith

their activities. The government’s ability to control the media began to erode
during the 1990s because of the proliferation of satellite television dishes,247 and
the erosion increased dramatically with the internet and social media after the
turn of the century.248 Musharraf realized the futility of trying to control these
new technologies and allowed considerable media freedom, often taking credit
for it as a demonstration of his moderate rule. Freedom of the press was seen as
a positive trend, but many analysts and hosts of the burgeoning cable TV news
channels were seen as irresponsible and incendiary. The students often held a
simultaneously divergent view, being proud of Pakistan’s more open media while
constantly criticizing its irresponsibility.”249 Despite their frustration with media
reporting, all the students watched television, listened to the radio, and seemed
to believe everything that was printed or broadcast if it had a negative slant
toward the United States or India. They were keenly aware of what was reported
about Pakistan in the U.S. press and refused to believe the U.S. government did
not control all of its media outlets. When they were confused by conflicting press
accounts of an issue, they typically defaulted to views supporting their own
In the 2010-2011 course, the Pakistani media was described by one guest
speaker as a “pillar of the state,” implying that it should serve the needs of
the state rather than act as an independent voice not subject to state control.
Pakistan, in his opinion, needed to do a better job of manipulating its media
rather than allowing it to operate freely. The Pakistani students also considered
every U.S. media outlet to be an organ of state propaganda that followed an
anti-Pakistan and anti-Muslim line in its coverage of the region.251 The 2011-2012
Student A summarized student attitudes at the Staff College as follows: Their
general opinion is that “the military is not a foe of the media but the media
only seems to be reporting the bad things [about the army].” They accept
the doctrinal theory that the media plays a positive role in SCW operations by
highlighting extremist atrocities and efforts by the government to curb them,
but think it should be “under control” rather than allowed to move around freely
and criticize the Army. One guest speaker that year, Talat Hussain, a well-known
Pakistani journalist, spoke to the student body about the media’s role in civil
society and was asked pointedly by one student why his paper criticized the
Army’s performance in fighting militants. Hussain replied that the job of the
media was to report news, and if the news was bad it was not the fault of
the media. In subsequent syndicate room discussions, this was categorically
dismissed as merely “his opinion.” The Student thought the most commonly
held belief of his classmates was that Pakistan was not yet ready for Western-
style press freedom, although they admired the U.S. press for holding officials
accountable for their performance in office.252

The Quetta Experience


The first serious attempt at the Staff College to teach the operations of war
in a nuclear environment occurred in the 1955 course, during a time when
the U.S. Army and its NATO allies were beginning to explore the doctrine and
force structures needed to use tactical nuclear weapons to offset the massive
Soviet Union conventional military advantage in Europe.253 The first Pakistani
Commandant of the Staff College, Major General M.A. Latif Khan, was appointed
in August 1954. He quickly discovered that the subject had been addressed
previously only at a very elementary level and was determined to make it a
major focus of his tenure. He visited the British Army Staff College at Camberley
in September-October 1954, and he obtained permission to use copies of its
reference materials and exercises. At the beginning of the 1955 course, he
appointed a Future Warfare DS and arranged for the exercises of each operation
of warfare to have both conventional and nuclear components. That year, the
Staff College included a tactical exercise without troops (TEWT), Exercise
SLOVOBIA, in which the scenario was a division defensive operation conducted
under nuclear conditions. Latif arranged for the Army’s Chief of General Staff and
most other key staff directors at GHQ to observe it. “It was generally agreed that
this subject required further study,” he later recalled, “even if we ourselves were
not likely to possess nuclear weapons for many years to come.”254
In the next 25 years, the emphasis placed on nuclear warfare declined
markedly, as it did in the United States and NATO. A description of the nuclear
curriculum in 1982 is at ANNEX F. It consisted of only 24.5 40-minute periods and
was conducted on three non-consecutive days. Except for a 1950s-era black and
white film on the effects of nuclear weapons and a guest presentation by the
head of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), everything was covered
in TDs and TEs in the syndicate rooms. According to the 1982 Student, the
instruction consisted of a few simple exercises such as determining minimum
safe distances from a nuclear burst, calculating fallout, preparing a downwind
message for a chemical strike, and the proper methods of decontaminating
exposed personnel. Notional weapon systems and nuclear yields contained
in unclassified U.S. Army field manuals, presumably from the Command and
General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and re-bound in Staff College covers,
were used. He assumed that a previous Pakistani student at Fort Leavenworth
must have brought them back. Given the minimal amount of time allotted for
the material, he considered it to be a perfunctory attempt to familiarize the
students with the bare minimum requirements for a corps-level nuclear fire plan.
It obviously had little practical use in an army like Pakistan’s. The DS, Lieutenant
Colonel Muzzafar Usmani (who later played a major role in Musharraf’s 1999
coup), admitted that he had no background to teach the material and asked

David O. Smith

him to explain the procedures to the syndicate, a situation that several other
Students found themselves in subsequent years. The instruction was framed in
the context of the Cold War: the United States and the Soviet Union deterred
general war with nuclear weapons, but if deterrence failed and a war broke
out in Europe, they would probably be used first in a tactical role. Pakistan and
India wouldn’t have nuclear weapons for a long time, if ever, but as professional
soldiers, they needed to know at least something about the subject. Nothing
was ever said afterward and there was no nuclear component in any of the major
Staff College exercises.
It was no secret even in 1982 that Pakistan was attempting to develop
nuclear weapons. It had been sanctioned three years earlier by the Carter
administration because of this effort, although the sanctions were conveniently
set aside after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Student’s Pakistani
classmates often accused the United States of having a double standard where
India was involved because India was the first South Asian state to introduce
nuclear weapons into the region and had not been punished for it even though
it was a client state of the Soviet Union. Pakistan, on the other hand, had been
punished merely for trying to match the Indian capability.255
For the next two decades, the nuclear curriculum at the Staff College
remained approximately the same, although in 1985 the Student College formed
a panel with the American, British, and German students in the main auditorium
to discuss various nuclear-related issues. They thought this was an attempt
to “pick their brains” on a sensitive topic.256 Another new wrinkle in 1987
harkened back to 1955, a three-day tactical exercise without troops (TEWT) in
the syndicate room. The exercise setting was the Thar Desert in southeastern
Pakistan and the scenario was an Indian penetration of the Pakistani defense
line that had reached a point where tactical nuclear weapons needed to be
employed to stop it. The exercise was described jocularly in the college yearbook
as follows:

During the Second Term the syndicate rooms were as usual the
centre of all our activities with some respite when exposed to
Nuclear and Chemical environments, where our efficiency was
judged by the speed of turning over the pages of the manuals.
These NBCW manuals considerably disturbed the load tables of
our briefcases. Those of us who had done our math homework
back in schools were at ease with the subject. But for a
majority, it was the kind of work best left buried at Hiroshima.257

The Quetta Experience

During this two-decade period, the general knowledge and attitudes about
nuclear weapons expressed by Pakistani students at the Staff College can be
summarized as follows:258

• They displayed little knowledge of nuclear weapons effects, and nuclear
weapons were viewed simply as a larger form of explosive with no
discussion about the strategic implications of their use in South Asia.
• An Islamic Bomb was inevitable and Pakistan should be the first Muslim
state to have it. India was the first regional state to test a nuclear device
and it was unfair to expect Pakistan not to seek to match this capability.
The United States effort to restrict Pakistani access to nuclear technology
was evidence of its unreliability as a security partner. “We all know Israel
has them as well” was a commonly expressed thought in this context.
• Pakistan’s nuclear program was a matter of national survival that should
not be questioned. Pakistan, as a sovereign state, had the right to acquire
nuclear weapons for its defense. Many referred to nuclear weapons as “a
poor man’s air force,” a statement implying that Pakistan could never afford
to match India’s growing conventional military might and that in the long
run, nuclear weapons were a cheaper alternative.
• “Ambiguity” was the preferred way to treat the subject, although one PAF
officer boasted he would gladly fly a nuclear-armed aircraft on a one-way
mission into India if ordered. No one categorically denied that Pakistan
had a nuclear capability, but it was clearly not something that should be
discussed openly, and particularly not if any foreigners were present.
• Most students during the 1990s had participated In the Brasstacks crisis
with India in 1987 and the Army’s large Zarb-i-Momin exercise in 1989,
both generally ascribed by U.S. analysts as having a nuclear component.
Nevertheless, there was never any mention of Pakistan using nuclear
weapons against India in any future contingency, much less having a
formal doctrine for their use.
• The Pressler sanctions were a constant item of conversation. Students
occasionally became emotional when the subject arose: “They said
clearly the U.S. had dumped them and sanctioned them only when
we didn’t need them anymore. They talked about it in terms like we
‘aggressively’ chose to punish them when we didn’t need them anymore
[for Afghanistan].”
• One Student recalled, “When I got into town [Islamabad] I asked the cab
driver to take me to the most important point in town. The cab driver took
me to A.Q. Khan’s house [the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb] to show
me the most important, most famous place in Islamabad.”

David O. Smith

In 1998, India conducted a series of nuclear weapon tests and Pakistan
quickly followed suit. These actions resulted in both countries being placed under
nuclear-related sanctions by the United States. During the 2001-2002 border
crisis with India, the height of the crisis occurred in early June when the U.S.
ambassador to India evacuated all embassy dependents because he feared
that the crisis could result in a war that escalated to the nuclear level.259 At this
point, the United Kingdom ordered the British student to leave the Staff College.
Surprisingly, nothing about the crisis was ever discussed at the college. By
2002, the relatively small amount of time in the Staff College nuclear curriculum
diminished almost to zero with most Students in the following decade having
difficulty recalling anything in the nuclear realm ever being discussed.260 An
examination of the 2010-2011 Staff College syllabus showed only five total hours
of instruction in nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) operations, two hours
of which was a guest speaker discussing Pakistan’s nuclear and missile forces,
the Director General for Operations of the Strategic Plans Division. The Student
recalled him stating that Pakistan would never relinquish the right to use nuclear
weapons first if the situation required it.261 The only exception to this diminished
level of nuclear instruction occurred in 2006 when a two-to-three week block of
instruction with a tactical nuclear weapons emphasis was conducted. The first
two weeks were the preparatory phase for a weeklong major exercise. Allied
students were allowed to attend only the preparatory phase; the final part of
the exercise was only for Pakistan Army students; even the students from the
Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy were excluded. No reference materials
were issued in the preparatory phase, and all information was imparted on
Powerpoint slides. In the preparatory phase, no details about Pakistan’s nuclear
capability were discussed. The 2006 Student asked two questions: What are
the requirements for a Pakistani first use of nuclear weapons? Would Pakistan
use nuclear weapons in preemption if it saw India deploying nuclear systems?
Neither was answered.262
Beginning in 2003 and continuing every year until the present (except
for 2006), the Staff College has conducted a major exercise during the two-
week period the allied students are away from Quetta on a tour of Pakistan.
Only a few Pakistani students were willing to discuss the exercise when the
allied officers returned from the tour. One who did said that the three days of
exercise play featured only four to five hours of instruction on nuclear issues
and that no questions from the students were permitted. He indicated there
was some residual student frustration with the content of the briefing and that
nothing useful had been imparted or learned. The exercise had a Cold Start
scenario (reflecting the new Indian Army ground doctrine) and included one day
of preparation, three days of exercise play, and one day for the exercise after-
action review.263 This was confirmed the following year when it was learned that

The Quetta Experience

the exercise was about how the Army might respond to an Indian “pro-active
operations” attack, the new Pakistan Army term of art for Cold Start. The Student
didn’t know if there was any nuclear dimension and thought it was predominately
a conventional exercise, possibly rehearsing a new ground forces doctrine. This
doctrine had been publicly disclosed by Inter-Services Public Affairs as the main
feature of the Azm-e-Nau series of large-scale Army map and field exercises held
annually from 2009 onward.264
In the last 10 years, other attitudes about nuclear weapons expressed by
Pakistani students at the Staff College are summarized in the following points:

• Students were willing to talk openly only about the safety and security of
Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, frequently emphasizing that Pakistan’s nuclear
command and control procedures were much better than India’s, which
they considered to be “a hodge-podge.” In contrast, Pakistan had taken
time to think carefully about the issue and had incorporated multiple levels
of security in its nuclear weapons storage sites and laboratories. It seemed
clear that in contrast to the usual admonition not to discuss the nuclear
program with foreigners, this was one area that should be highlighted. “In
a small group, they seemed to feel comfortable about talking about the
safety and security of their nukes.”265
• Dr. A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, was still the
object of admiration despite being removed as head of Khan Research
Laboratories by General Musharraf in 2001. News about his trafficking in
nuclear components in 2004 made him a notorious figure. The prevailing
view among Pakistani students was that Pakistan had a sovereign right to
possess nuclear weapons and this capability had been made possible by
Khan. As for Pakistan’s deliberate concealment and denial about the state
of its program in the 1980s, they considered lying to protect state secrets
was appropriate behavior by any state.266
• They did not seem to understand (or worry about it if they did) the long
term implications of conducting nuclear warfare against a contiguous state.
They were unconcerned about potential long-term environmental damage
or the more immediate radiological effects of nuclear explosions and fallout
should the prevailing west-to-east pattern of winds in the Subcontinent
shift, for example during the monsoon season. “The shield of pride
[about having nuclear weapons] is more important than the truth [about
their effects],” is the way one Student described this way of thinking.
The most common attitude expressed was that in the event of a future
nuclear war with India, “We’ll all go down together.” They also didn’t see
any connection between the “tactical” use of nuclear weapons and any
resulting “strategic” consequences.267

David O. Smith

• A 2008 U.S. civil nuclear agreement signed with India,268 but not
considered for Pakistan, was unfair and discriminatory. Denying Pakistan
the same deal it gave to India demonstrated a lack of gratitude by the
United States for the sacrifices Pakistan had suffered on its behalf in the
war on terrorism. It confirmed in many minds that the bilateral relationship
was purely transactional and not based on common objectives.269
• Because Pakistan is a Muslim state, the United States does not believe
it can be trusted with nuclear technology. Consequently, many Pakistani
students believed as an article of faith that as many as 800 Marine
Corps personnel had been infiltrated into the U.S. embassy compound in
Islamabad for the sole purpose of seizing or neutralizing Pakistan’s nuclear
• Pakistani students consistently denied that Pakistan had a first-use nuclear
policy in the event of a future war with India. Most thought any conflict
would last only a week before the international community brought
enough pressure on India to defuse the situation before it escalated to the
nuclear level. If India attacked Pakistan, the general consensus was that
Pakistan would try to stabilize the situation with conventional means and
launch a counterattack at a weak Indian position to gain territory to use in a
post-war negotiation. However, if the counterattack failed and the country
was faced with military defeat, tactical nuclear weapons would then be
used to halt Indian military operations. This was only assumed, however,
and was never played in any Staff College war game. The students realized
that the use of tactical nuclear weapons was controversial and if not done
correctly—defined as use only in extremis and only on Pakistani territory—
the world would condemn Pakistan and it would become a global pariah.
There was little appreciation of the fact that India’s formal nuclear doctrine
(announced in 1999) explicitly states that any nuclear attack on Indian
troops, whether or not it occurs on Indian territory, will trigger massive
nuclear retaliation against the attacker. The students seemed to believe
that nuclear weapons used tactically on Pakistani territory would somehow
not trigger Indian nuclear retaliation.271


Up to now, this study has consciously attempted to be as descriptive and
expository as possible, trying to avoid making any value judgments about the
Staff College, its curriculum, or the attitudes and values of the students. The
comments made by the Students were selected to demonstrate a spectrum
of views. None were chosen to be deliberately provocative, but merely to
illustrate the wide variety of Student experiences and observations. From this
point onward, however, the author will attempt to synthesize the data collected
and formulate several admittedly subjective findings about the college and the
attitudes and values exhibited by the three groups of Pakistan Army officers
observed over the nearly four decades covered.
Given the changing demographics of the Pakistan Army, the decades of
political and economic turmoil in Pakistan, alternating periods of military and
civilian rule, and the dramatic changes in Pakistan’s strategic situation over the
study period, the author initially expected to identify several discernible changes
in the attitudes and values of the three groups of officers at the Staff College
along the study’s five lines of inquiry. Contrary to that expectation, perhaps the
single most surprising finding of this study is the consistency of attitudes and
values observed over nearly four decades. Only in the last five years did a few
minor generational differences become evident.
Two things must be borne in mind when considering these findings. The first
is that the findings below do not apply uniformly to the entire officer corps of the
Pakistan Army. They apply to the 50 percent of officers selected to attend the
Staff College, the officers that can be expected to rise in rank and lead the Army
in the future. This is not to imply that the attitudes and values of the 50 percent
of officers not selected are unimportant, only that they cannot be gauged
because there is no access to them.
The second thing to bear in mind is that in any given year, three distinct
military generations of the Pakistan Army were interacting at the Staff College.
The senior officers were from one military generation; the DS from another; and
the students from a third. For example, in the study’s mid-point year of 1994, the
senior officers were from the 1960s generation, the DS were from the 1970s
generation, and the students were from the 1980s generation.272 The Pakistani
cultural propensity to reflexively obey and venerate elders (and therefore more
senior officers), the importance to Pakistani students of doing well at the course,
and the Staff College’s key role in evaluating their promotion potential resulted
in a situational dynamic in which most Pakistani students tried very hard to

The Quetta Experience

keep any disagreements or major differences with the senior officers and DS
to themselves. This sometimes made it exceedingly difficult for the Students to
determine whether generational differences actually existed throughout an entire
cohort or were merely anecdotal. Nevertheless, most of the Students attending
the Staff College during the last five years of the study were convinced that
attitudes within the Pakistani student body were in the process of changing in at
least two significant areas that will be highlighted below.

Line of Inquiry 1: The Staff College Experience: Demographic Changes and
Social Issues

Fears of “Islamization” within the Pakistan Army officer corps and its
susceptibility to radical religious influence are exaggerated.

The impact of the Zia “Islamization” era of the late 1970s through the 1980s
appears to be exaggerated, although admittedly a higher percentage of Staff
College students from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s military generations appear
to be more religiously pious than their peers in earlier military generations.
This trend, however, can just as easily be ascribed to demographic and societal
changes in the country as a whole than to any specific Army policy. It is true that
Zia tried hard to diminish the Army’s traditional secular ethos inherited from the
British, and to make religion a part of its day-to-day activities. Those initiatives
appeared to have relatively little impact on Staff College students in the early
years of his rule, but a greater impact in the wider Army later on.
Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of students attending the Staff
College throughout the study period were observed to practice the moderate
and tolerant version of Sunni Islam that is traditionally associated in Pakistan with
the Sufi movement. Only a very small percentage of students in recent years
appear to have adopted the more austere Deobandi version of Islam associated
with radical militant groups. This number is probably not more than 5 percent
and perhaps much lower. These “overly religious” officers tend to be shunned
and marginalized by their peers who typically dismiss them as “bearded ones.”
Because they also tend to finish near the bottom of the course, the likelihood
they will be promoted to the grade of brigadier or receive a sensitive assignment
or command is extremely remote. Nearly all the Pakistani students, including
those with more conservative religious views, expressed the attitude that
religion is a personal matter that does not influence the performance of military
duties. They also see little value in Islamic governance, preferring democracy
and civilian governance in overwhelming numbers. The study also uncovered no
evidence of the influence of proselytizing Islamic organizations like Tabliqi Jamaat
or more radical groups like Hezb ut Tahrir at the Staff College. There also was no
evidence of any friction between Sunni and Shia officers.
David O. Smith

The background of the top performing students at the Staff College has not
changed despite ethnicity and social class composition changes in the officer

The top 10 to 15 percent of graduates in each Staff College class—those
students identified by the Staff College evaluation system as the best fitted for
promotion to general officer rank and senior staff and command appointments—
were found to display several traits that were unchanged over the 37-year study
period. While not every top finisher possessed every trait, very few lacked more
than one. The top finishers were predominately from a self-described military
background, were better educated than their peers, had a stronger proficiency
in English, and typically graduated from one of the relatively small number
of prestigious English-medium military cadet colleges that have flourished in
Pakistan since independence. They were more religious than their more secular
predecessors, but practiced the moderate and tolerant version of Islam usually
described as Sufism. At some time in their military careers they were exposed to
U.S. or other Western military values and experiences either by attending military
education courses abroad or by serving in international peacekeeping operations.
Perhaps as a consequence of this cosmopolitan experience they were generally
more self-confident, independent in their thinking, and more willing to consider
other points of view.
This does not imply that these officers are more pro-Western or even “less
anti-American” than their peers, but only that they tend to be more cosmopolitan
in their outlook, more willing to entertain other viewpoints, and more creative
in their thinking. These top finishers constitute a small group within the officer
corps who will return to the Staff College as members of the Directing Staff,
be selected to attend the National Defence University and attend foreign staff
colleges for further professional military education, and are virtually guaranteed
to be promoted at least to the grade of brigadier. It is from this small group that
the senior leadership of the Pakistan Army has been selected in the past, and
presumably will be selected in the future.

The Staff College succeeds in identifying the next cadre of senior military
officers, but fails in its mission to provide a quality professional military education
to the bulk of its students.

The vast majority of Staff College graduates, approximately 80 percent, will never
receive any additional professional military education. They will not return to the
Staff College as Directing Staff, not attend the National Defence University, and
not become general officers. These students tend to be less broadly educated
than the top-finishers described above, more religious (including some who

The Quetta Experience

subscribe to more puritanical versions of Islam), have had less exposure to
Western military values and international experiences, and are reflexively more
anti-Western, perhaps reflecting the attitudes of their lower middle class and
working class origins. Although on paper the Staff College syllabus resembles
counterpart institutions in Western countries, the actual practices it tends to
reward (conventional thinking) and overlook (cheating), when combined with
other Pakistani cultural influences, inculcates in the majority of its graduates
a preference for orthodoxy and conservative military thinking rather than for
flexibility or creativity.
The cheating techniques that have been well documented throughout the
study, the ubiquitous use of chappa, the approved solutions to earlier versions
of Staff College exercises, do not inhibit the evaluation process, but they stultify
military learning by the less well educated students who doggedly pursue the
prized “Staff College solution” rather than take the risk of creative thinking.
Admittedly, the top finishers at the Staff College were superb officers who
did not need the chappa and often displayed the ability to think creatively. The
problem is that an army does not fight with just the top 10 percent of its officer
corps. The other 90 percent of Staff College graduates that did rely on it to pass
will find to their sorrow that no chappa is available for any future war with India.
Exacerbating this deficiency is the cultural deference to seniority and rank that
inhibits freedom of discussion, magnifies the influence of the Directing Staff, and
makes it almost unthinkable to question senior officer opinions and decisions,
Army doctrines, or Pakistan’s highly selective interpretation of its military history.

The Staff College curriculum is weak in joint operations, land-centric in its
approach to modern warfare, imparts an outmoded ground forces doctrine, and
pays insufficient attention to logistics.

The problems mentioned above are exacerbated by major shortcomings in the
Staff College curriculum. The study revealed a near-total absence of effective joint
doctrine and training instruction with no change in the amount being conducted
over the 37-year study period. A comparison of weekly Staff College training
schedules in 1982 and 2010-2011 showed that no more than 41 classroom hours
were devoted to joint training in this 30 year period. There are so few students
from the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy at the Staff College that one
American student theorized it was possible for a Pakistan Army student never to
have had one in his syndicate during an entire year.273
Nearly every Student attending the Staff College, and many other Western
students as well, commented on the Pakistan Army’s outdated, World War
II ground doctrine and weakness in combat arms integration taught at the
Staff College. Even less emphasis is placed on logistics, with fewer than 15

David O. Smith

percent of entering Staff College students coming from the logistics arms and
services. Major exercises frequently allowed negative cultural biases about India
to influence the assessment of Indian military capabilities and to exaggerate
Pakistani military capabilities. This situation exists not because Pakistan Army
officers are ignorant or haven’t been exposed to more objective thinking about
such matters, but because of the pernicious cultural factors mentioned above
that inhibit constructive criticism and creative thinking at the Staff College, a
situation that almost certainly exists throughout the entire Army.

The U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program promotes
progressive military thinking in the Pakistan Army.

Every Student but one considered the IMET program to be a positive tool in
promoting progressive military thinking among Pakistani officers. Attendance at
U.S. military schools was a common feature in the background of many top-
performing students at the Staff College. This did not mean that IMET exposure
automatically resulted in a pro-U.S. attitude—sometimes it did, and at other
times it did not—but at least it exposed a large number of Pakistani officers
destined for high rank to the American point of view on civil-military relations,
democracy, human rights, and a more objective examination of the complexity
of U.S.-Pakistan relations and regional issues then they would otherwise have
been exposed to in Pakistan. This exposure seemed to promote more objective
thinking and a broader worldview than was observed in the majority of Staff
College students who lacked such exposure.

Line of Inquiry 2: Perception of External Threats and Friendships

There is a growing “generational divide” between senior/mid-level officers
and Staff College students about the priority of external and internal threats to

For the first 25 years of the study period, there was virtually complete unanimity
of opinion among Pakistani students that the external military threat posed by
India was Pakistan’s most salient military threat. The internal security problems
posed by tribal dissidents in the western provinces of the country and sectarian
conflicts were of secondary importance and could be easily managed. This
prioritization was reflected in the lack of emphasis on internal security operations
in the Staff College curriculum during this period. Two minor generational
differences have emerged in the past five years, one on threat salience and
another on dealing with India.
The India-centric focus did not change in the post 9/11 period, even as
Pakistan’s internal security situation slowly began to deteriorate. A turning point
The Quetta Experience

in Staff College student opinion about the salience of the internal security threat
posed by Pakistan-focused militant groups occurred in 2009 when the Swat-
based Tehrik-i-Namaz-i- Sharia Muhammadi (TNSM) took over political control
of the Swat Valley. The perception that this group and another state-focused
group with which it is affiliated, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), are a serious,
perhaps even existential, threat to the national government has grown among
the Pakistani students every year since then. This view was not uniformly shared
by senior officers or DS, most of whom continue to maintain that India remains
Pakistan’s primary security threat. Nevertheless, a growing number, estimated by
some Students to be as many as 60 percent in more recent classes, have begun
to view Pakistan-focused militant groups as a more significant threat than India
that must be addressed as a higher priority in the short term. The most likely
explanation for the divergent views is that the younger officers have typically
served longer and more frequent tours of duty in the FATA and Swat Valley than
the senior officers and DS. Pakistani students in the more recent courses can
truly be said to have spent their entire military career directly confronting these
Perhaps coincidently, the traditional view that India is inexorably destined to
be Pakistan’s implacable enemy also appears to be moderating, a viewpoint that
was occasionally echoed privately by DS who have served with Indian officers in
international peacekeeping operations. Future senior leaders may even be more
amenable to contemplate making peace with India, or at least as Zia did during
the 1980s, to “freeze” the adversarial situation with India temporarily in order to
focus on the more immediate internal security threat.

The United States is perceived as a direct military threat to Pakistan.

At the beginning of the study period in 1977 and for the next three decades, the
United States was typically regarded by senior officers, DS, and students alike
as an unreliable security partner that used Pakistan to attain short-term regional
objectives and abruptly downgraded the relationship when those objectives were
achieved. Even after the imposition of the Pressler Amendment sanctions regime
in 1990, a reservoir of goodwill continued to exist because the bilateral military-
to-military relationship continued to function, albeit at a diminished level.274
Throughout the 1990s there was even a sense of “nostalgia” within the Army’s
senior leadership for the times when the overall relationship was stronger. In
effect, the U.S. Department of Defense was perceived by the Army as the “good
cop” in the bilateral relationship while the Department of State was the “bad
Immediately after 9/11, Pakistan became a reluctant ally in the U.S. war on
terrorism, dragged into it under duress and forced to support regional objectives

David O. Smith

that many in the Army perceived not to be in Pakistan’s interest. Although a
façade of cooperation was maintained for most of the next decade, a series
of unfortunate events in 2011 exacerbated a growing wave of alienation and
frustration that reached its crest in May 2011 when a cross-border operation by
U.S. special operations forces on Usama bin Laden’s residence in Abbottabad
was widely viewed as a blatant disregard of Pakistani sovereign and disrespect
for the Army. The Staff College Commandant told a U.S. student afterward,
“You [the United States] stabbed us in the back.”275 This traumatizing event was
exacerbated the following November by a U.S. airstrike on the Salala border post
that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers. This strike was not an isolated incident,
only the most serious of a series of border clashes in 2011 that inflicted many
military casualties on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line. Rather than acting as
a buffer in the bilateral relationship, the military-to-military relationship that had
previously sustained the bilateral relationship in periods of political estrangement
now came to be viewed by virtually all cohorts in the Army as a major irritant. The
Department of Defense had become, in effect, the bad cop.
Because the Abbottabad raid also showcased the ability of U.S. air platforms
to penetrate deeply into Pakistan without being detected, many students at
the Staff College openly voiced concern that the United States was remaining
in Afghanistan simply to have a base from which to mount operations to seize
or neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. They perceived that for the first time in
history, the United States now constituted a serious military threat to Pakistan.
The 2011 American student noted that about half the students in his syndicates
had been to U.S. military schools and even many of them subscribed to these
conspiratorial theories. The 2013-2014 Student was concerned that the level of
animosity toward the United States was not appreciated by the U.S. Embassy in

Neither Afghanistan-focused militant groups nor the Afghan National Army (ANA)
are perceived as significant military threats to Pakistan.

In 1977, Afghanistan was perceived by Pakistani students to be a hostile state,
but one that lacked the military capability to threaten Pakistan. Even when the
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan made Pakistan a frontline state in the international
effort led by the United States to eject Soviet troops, the perception of a credible
military threat to Pakistan’s western flank was minimal. By the mid-1990s,
with the internally focused Taliban government in power in Kabul, Pakistan had
actually attained a degree of its desired “strategic depth” in the west.277 But
the post 9/11 removal of the Taliban government by the United States, the
continuing albeit diminished U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, an unfriendly
government in Kabul headed by Hamid Karzai, and a perceived Indian strategy of

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using Afghanistan as a platform to destabilize Pakistan’s two western provinces
rekindled concern about strategic depth in the west. Because of the perceived
Indian dimension, Pashtun-dominated, Afghanistan-focused militant groups like
the Taliban senior leadership of Mullah Omar and the Haqqani Network were
seen not only as posing no military threat to Pakistan, but as potential tools
for shaping a post-Karzai government more amenable to Pakistan’s security
interests. Surprisingly, the existence of a relatively large and capable U.S.-trained
and equipped Afghan National Army (ANA) is likewise not considered a credible
threat to Pakistan. Most Pakistani students believe that without a robust level of
U.S. combat support, the ANA will quickly fragment along ethnic lines.

Line of Inquiry 3: Perception of Internal Threats and Friendships

Pakistan-focused militant groups like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are Pakistan’s
most significant internal security threat.

The Staff College curriculum generally downplayed internal security operations
in the first 25 years of the study period. Despite major militancy in Balochistan
in the 1970s and a dramatic deterioration in law and order in Sindh and its
capital city of Karachi in the 1990s, Pakistani students clearly perceived internal
security operations to be the responsibility of the police and paramilitary forces,
not the Army. A dramatic erosion in the internal security situation in the FATA,
Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after 9/11 resulted from a confluence
of three factors: fleeing remnants of the Afghan Taliban and affiliated foreign
militant groups found (or were given) sanctuary in northern Balochistan and the
FATA; the traditional model of governance in the FATA, already weakened during
the 1980s Afghan jihad, was further marginalized by these groups; and there was
a corresponding rise in Pakistan-focused militant groups in the FATA that found
common cause with radical groups in southern Punjab.
Additional factors adding concern to the internal security situation
included a reinvigoration of Baloch militancy that required a larger military and
paramilitary force in Balochistan; the continuing increase in sectarian and ethnic
violence in Karachi; sectarian violence between radical Sunni and Shia groups;
and a deteriorating law and order situation nationwide. Dealing with one or
two of these factors would be difficult enough, but dealing with all of them
simultaneously has severely stretched the capacity of the Army. The first major
event to cause the Staff College to address the deteriorating internal security
situation occurred in 2007 when the Army’s Special Services Group mounted
a bloody operation in Islamabad to evict militants who had taken over the Lal
Masjid, or Red Mosque. A second major event occurred in 2009 when the Swat-
based TNSM took over political control of the Swat Valley area after a series of
peace agreements struck with the federal government collapsed. The perception
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that these Pakistan-focused groups are a serious, even existential, threat to the
national government among Staff College students has grown every year since
then, with some students expressing concern that should the various militant
groups combine forces and coordinate their efforts against the state, the Army
might be unable to deal with the situation.

Despite increasing the amount of Staff College curriculum devoted to Sub-
Conventional Warfare (SCW), the doctrine emphasizes kinetic operations instead
of counterinsurgency techniques.

The Staff College has been stubbornly reluctant to recognize the existence
of insurgencies in Pakistan, apparently because senior officers and DS are
unwilling to admit that Pakistani citizens are so disaffected they would take up
arms to overthrow the state. Hence the habitual use of the terms “miscreants”
and “sub-nationals” when referring to members of Pakistan-focused militant
groups like TTP and TNSM. At the beginning of the study in 1977, the Pakistan
Army was waging a major campaign against Baloch militants in the province
of Balochistan where the Staff College is located, but there was absolutely no
reflection of this in the 1977 college curriculum. In 1982, the syllabus allotted
only 13 periods to counterinsurgency training. A major shift in emphasis occurred
in 2009, and by 2010-2011 the college syllabus allotted 115 hours to the subject.
However, the doctrine being taught in the SCW block relies predominantly on
kinetic operations, followed by a presumably indefinite military presence in areas
cleared of militants.
But even if the Army and the Staff College fully embraced the U.S.
counterinsurgency doctrinal paradigm, it could not execute the classic “clear,
hold, and build” COIN model because of the absence of governmental
institutions and reliable local security forces in the FATA to protect civilians when
the Army withdraws. The doctrine generally worked in the Swat Valley, a settled
area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, because government agencies, courts,
and police forces existed before they were driven out by militants and could be
quickly reconstituted. Despite more than 20 years of unrest in Karachi, the Army
has no doctrine for urban operations and will likely have to rely on police and
paramilitary forces to maintain a semblance of order in Pakistan’s largest city and
commercial center.

Kashmir-focused militant groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are not perceived as a
threat to the state.

Employing religiously motivated militant groups to offset conventional military
weakness has long been a tool used by the Pakistan Army. Mehsud tribal levies

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were used in an attempt to seize parts of the disputed territory of Jammu and
Kashmir in 1947; in 1965, soldiers were infiltrated across the Line of Control to
foment an insurrection against India by the indigenous Kashmiri population; and
throughout the 1980s, a variety of militant groups were supported to drive Soviet
forces out of Afghanistan. Therefore, it was not surprising that the study found
a consensus view among Staff College senior officers, DS, and students that
India-focused militant groups like LeT and Afghan-focused groups like the Taliban
senior leadership and Haqqani Network do not constitute an internal security
threat to Pakistan, and that they are in fact a valuable tool to shape the regional
environment more to Pakistan’s liking.
From 1989 to the present, there has been consistent support by all three
groups of officers for the struggle of India-focused militant groups in the
disputed Kashmir territory, the most typical attitude being that the Kashmiris are
“Islamic brothers” meriting great moral and diplomatic support.278 Even after the
dramatic 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack by LeT (which continued to operate after
a 2002 ban simply by changing its name to Jamaat ud-Dawa), Pakistani students
continued to believe the group posed no meaningful threat to Pakistan. A typical
attitude noted by one American student was that because these groups are not
bothering anyone but India, “we don’t bother them.” 279 Perhaps the most candid
comment about the positive use of militants to gain Pakistani objectives was
made in the 2010-2011 course by the Commandant, an ethnic Kashmiri, who
while summing up the lessons of a major LIC exercise made this comment:
“We have our own insurgents, and, if need be, we can use them.” The American
student initially thought he must have misspoken, but after consulting with other
Western students who were similarly surprised at his candor, realized he had
heard him quite correctly.280

Sub-Conventional Warfare doctrine in Staff College exercises reveals that only lip
service is paid to civilian collateral damage and the laws of land warfare.

Recent Staff College exercises revealed a great deal of insensitivity to the
condition of the civilian population during SCW operations. Although there
was universal condemnation by students of U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles, or
“drone,” attacks in the FATA as an affront to Pakistani sovereignty, in college
exercises when that resource was made available to them for exercise purposes,
Pakistani students used them liberally, along with massive amounts of artillery
to clear villages. Another preferred tactic was to evacuate the entire civilian
population from the planned area of operations, a tactic difficult to perform in
the FATA in light of the absence of complete government control over the area,
and then to treat the entire area as a virtual “free-fire zone.” Even more troubling
was the attitude displayed toward captured militants. Although there was no

David O. Smith

outright admission that extra-judicial killing of prisoners was an official tactic
condoned by the Army chain of command, comments made by several students
and DS suggest that it has occurred frequently in the past and is continuing.
The practice seems to be linked to the students’ perception that the Pakistani
judicial system fails to deal appropriately with captured militants, often freeing
them for lack of admissible evidence or the failure to find witnesses willing to
testify against them, a situation that puts soldiers and their families at high risk
of militant retaliation.

Line of Inquiry 4: Attitudes toward the State and its Institutions

Staff College students support democracy and civilian governance in theory, but
are harshly critical of civilian political institutions in practice.

Even during the two lengthy periods of military rule covered in the study,
Pakistani students consistently stated a strong preference for democracy and
civilian governance. However, their attitude toward military rule was exculpatory,
meaning the Army was always “forced” to take over the country because of
the corruption and venality of civilian politicians who were unwilling to put the
needs of the country ahead of their own personal gain. Ironically, the two long
periods of civilian governance, one of 11 years and another of 5 years, seemed
only to reinforce these stereotypical negative attitudes about civilian governance.
Possibly the only group more distrusted and condemned than civilian politicians
was Pakistan’s media. It was uniformly seen as irresponsible, incendiary,
lacking in objectivity, and overly critical of the Army, and therefore needed to be
controlled or kept on a very tight leash. Ironically, whenever the media narrative
turned against the United States, Staff College students tended to accept and
support its criticism wholeheartedly.

Staff College students were strongly supportive of the two military rulers, Zia
and Musharraf, while they were in office, but viewed them (and all former
military rulers) negatively after they left office.

This phenomenon may be illustrative of two conflicting principles at work in the
minds of the Pakistani students—loyalty to the Army as an institution on the
one hand, and the belief on the other hand that military governance eventually
corrupts the officer corps and damages the Army’s standing in the eyes of
the civilian populace. Ironically, and perhaps another example of the difficulty
of reconciling this ethical dilemma, the only negative comment made about
the recently retired Chief of Army Staff, General Kayani, who served for an
unprecedented six-year term, was that he didn’t oust the corrupt and inefficient
government of Asif Ali Zardari.
The Quetta Experience

Line of Inquiry 5: Attitudes toward Nuclear Issues

A negligible amount of Staff College curriculum is devoted to nuclear issues,
deployment of nuclear systems, and nuclear warfighting doctrine.

Since Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests, Staff College senior officers, DS, and
students have openly and strongly supported the nuclear program, partly
because of pride in the accomplishment and partly because of a perception
that it insulates Pakistan from future Indian military threats. However, a very
surprising finding in the study was the absolute dearth of recent discussion
about nuclear issues and doctrine. The amount of time for nuclear issues in the
Staff College syllabus was very small at the beginning of the study, with only
16 hours of instruction in 1982, yet in 2013 only five hours were allotted, and
this during a time in which Pakistan was well along in the process of developing
and fielding a large family of tactical nuclear weapons.281 Certain aspects of
nuclear usage might have been discussed in a Pakistani students-only exercise
that has been conducted annually for several years to rehearse plans to deal
with an Indian Cold Start (now called proactive operations) attack, but even this
is apparently limited to a short briefing by the Strategic Plans Division with no
questions or discussion by students being allowed.

There is little appreciation of the potential strategic impact of the tactical use of
nuclear weapons.

No doubt because of the absence of any opportunity to discuss nuclear issues,
the Students noted a complete lack of awareness about the connection between
the tactical use of nuclear weapons, the potential strategic impact of their use
given the relatively short distances involved in the India-Pakistan case, and the
likely Indian reaction to Pakistani “first use” of any nuclear weapon in a future
war. The study found little understanding (or worry about it if there was) of
the long-term implications of conducting nuclear warfare against a contiguous
state—for example, the long-term environmental and immediate radiological
effects. “The shield of pride [about having nuclear weapons] is more important
than the truth [about their effects],” is the way one American student described
this head-in-the-sand attitude. The most common attitude expressed was an
attempt at black humor, that in the event of a future nuclear war with India,
“We’ll all go down together,” apparently discounting any connection between the
“tactical” use of nuclear weapons and the resulting “strategic” consequences.282
Many students denied that Pakistan had a first-use nuclear policy in the
event of a future war with India that went badly for Pakistan. Most thought
any future conflict would last only a week before the international community

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brought enough pressure (on India) to defuse the situation before it escalated
to the nuclear level. If India attacked Pakistan, they assumed the Army and PAF
would try to stabilize the situation conventionally and counterattack at a weak
Indian position to gain territory to use in a post-war negotiation. Only if the
counterattack failed and the country faced military defeat would tactical nuclear
weapons be used. These assumptions apparently were never tested in any Staff
College war game. The students realized that the use of tactical nuclear weapons
was controversial and that if not done correctly, which they seemed to define
as using them only in extremis and only on Pakistani territory, the world would
condemn Pakistan and make it a global pariah. There was little comprehension of
India’s formal 1999 nuclear doctrine that stipulates any nuclear attack on Indian
troops, whatever their location, will automatically result in a massive nuclear
retaliation against the attacker. There was a persistent belief, again not tested in
a war game, that nuclear weapons used tactically on Pakistani territory would
somehow insulate Pakistan from Indian retaliation.283

Despite Pakistan’s deteriorating internal security environment, the nuclear
arsenal is considered to be safely and securely stored.

The one nuclear area that Pakistani students seemed comfortable talking about
openly with the Students is the safety and security of the nuclear arsenal. Many
were willing to opine that Pakistan’s nuclear command and control procedures
were better than India’s, which they considered to be “a hodge-podge.”
Pakistan, in contrast, had taken time to think carefully about the issue and had
established multiple security levels in all its nuclear weapons and laboratories.
It seemed clear to the Students that in contrast to the usual wariness about
discussing the nuclear program with foreigners, this was one area that should
be highlighted to them. “In a small group,” said one American student, “they
seemed to feel comfortable about talking about the safety and security of their


What then can be concluded from the study findings about the future behavior
of the current and next generation of Pakistan Army officers, and what will be
their impact on the behavior of the Pakistan Army and on the attainment of U.S.
regional goals? While the prediction of specific events in Pakistan is mostly a
fool’s game, the conclusions below are both positive and negative for the United

The Army will continue to be led by relatively moderate officers who see value in
the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

This is not a “rosy scenario.” Memories are long in South Asia and the events
of 2011 will long be remembered. But the current generation of senior leaders
in the Army and likely at least the next two generations, those covered in this
study, will be savvy enough to realize the value of maintaining reasonably close
ties with the United States. Many were exposed to U.S. values in our military
schools early in their careers and they are far more likely than other groups in
the Army and the country at large to appreciate the value of a strong bilateral
military-to-military relationship. Whatever the euphoric rhetoric in Pakistan about
close relations with China and brotherly relations with the Gulf Arab states, the
current and future military leaders probably recognize that none of these “friends
of Pakistan” can offer the same level of economic assistance or access to high-
technology military weaponry as the United States and its Western allies. In
the event of a future military confrontation with India, neither will they be able
to wield the same degree of global diplomatic pressure necessary to keep the
situation from escalating out of control.
However, even if the senior levels of the Pakistan Army understand the need
to maintain at least the semblance of a positive relationship with the United
States, growing antipathy toward the United States within the country and
perhaps even within lower officer, non-commissioned officer, and enlisted ranks
of the Army will make it difficult to sustain the relationship in the future. It must
be assumed that the growing negativity toward the bilateral relationship that
has been exhibited in the past four years also will be a challenge to future chiefs
of army staff. In this context, it is significant to note that General Raheel Sharif
made a point of emphasizing in his first address to the Staff College in 2014
that the United States and Pakistan are on the same side and that the former
was being especially helpful in the ongoing campaign against the TTP in North
Waziristan Agency.
The Quetta Experience

But even if the senior leaders are disposed to maintain a positive relationship
with the United States, there are very well defined performance requirements
that must continue to be met. Any continuation of a robust U.S.-Pakistan
relationship requires that Pakistan refrain from actions that would compel
an immediate halt to U.S. economic and military aid. Examples of actions
that Pakistan must avoid include: testing or proliferating nuclear weapons,
altering U.S.-provided military equipment without the consent of the United
States, releasing U.S. military technology to third parties without U.S. consent,
conducting a military coup against an elected civilian government, engaging
in the state sponsorship of terrorism, abusing the human rights of captured
militants, and, most importantly, facilitating a Taliban resurgence and takeover of
the Afghan government after the final U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Future generations of senior leaders may be more amenable to resolving
contentious issues with India to concentrate on dealing with internal security
problems, but the current generation will continue to see value in India-focused
militant groups.

This is likewise not a rosy scenario. Changing Pakistan’s behavior toward India in
the contested Kashmir region is probably a process requiring generational effort.
The increasing pressure being placed on the Pakistani state by TTP and other
Pakistan-focused militant groups, coupled with the enormous pressure being
placed on the Army by its efforts to combat TTP in the FATA and elsewhere,
cannot continue indefinitely given Pakistan’s limited military and economic
resources. This is understood by a growing number of Pakistani students in
recent Staff College courses. The “generational divide” described above about
the salience of the Indian military threat in light of growing internal security
challenges in Pakistan will eventually be won by the younger generations coming
to power in the Army. They, not their seniors, have grown up professionally
fighting the TTP, seen their friends die at their hands, and watched the Army’s
combat power steadily deteriorate over time as its vehicles, weapons,
helicopters, and ammunition are “used up” in a seemingly unending fight with
little hope of full replacement. Another factor that may explain this group’s
diminished hostility toward India could be the impact of Musharraf’s three-
year attempt from 2004 to 2007 to strike a peace deal with India over Kashmir.
Like Nixon and China, perhaps the leader of a military government, and the
architect of Kargil at that, could have been trusted by the rest of the Army senior
leadership to protect Pakistan’s national security interests in such negotiations.
Whatever his other faults, Musharraf at least showed the Army there was a way
out of the long-festering Kashmir dispute. While the next military generation can
be expected to see India as its principal long-term military threat, those behind

David O. Smith

it might be more likely to understand the need not to exacerbate Pakistan’s
deteriorating strategic position by ceding the issue of war or peace with India to
unreliable militant groups that may not be totally under the control of ISI.
One caveat must be given. Given the internal dynamics of the Pakistan
Army, the role of the chief of army staff will be decisive in any change of thinking
on India. Keep in mind that Musharraf could envision a new path forward on
Kashmir, while his successor, Kayani, took a more traditional hardline view.
Whatever their personal feelings and those of the officer corps at the time, any
future COAS will have to balance several internal Army factors before daring to
launch another change of thinking. The irony of the Kashmir situation is that the
danger posed by groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba in provoking military confrontation
with India will always be offset by their perceived utility in tying down large
numbers of Indian military, paramilitary, and police forces in the non-strategic
Kashmir area in peacetime, and in mounting behind-the-lines operations against
the Indian Army in the event of future war.

The Pakistan Army will continue to use Afghanistan-focused militant groups
like the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network to shape a government in
Afghanistan more to its liking.

The consistent objective of all Pakistani governments since the Zia years has
been to use Afghanistan for “strategic depth,” a nebulous objective that is usually
defined less in geographic than in political terms. The Army claims to desire a
stable Afghanistan, but what it almost certainly desires more is a government
in Kabul that is friendly, or at least not overtly hostile to Pakistan. It also prefers
that this government be Pashtun-dominated so that the Pashtun tribal population
straddling the Durand Line has a divided loyalty, with those on the Afghan side
more aligned toward Kabul and those on the Pakistan side more aligned toward
Islamabad. And an absolute requirement transcending everything else is that the
government must keep Indian influence in Afghanistan to an absolute minimum.
Only an Afghan government with these characteristics will assuage Pakistan’s
fear that a future war with India might have to be fought on both the eastern
and western borders. The government of President Hamid Karzai was seen as
exhibiting none of Pakistan’s requirements.
The United States entry into Afghanistan after 9/11 greatly complicated
the fulfillment of this objective, as Pakistan was more or less coerced into
becoming part of the U.S.-led war on terrorism coalition. Although the Pakistan
Army cooperated with U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in rounding up and
turning over Al Qaeda and other foreign fighters that fled into Pakistan after
the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, it simultaneously provided
sanctuary and limited operational support to the Taliban senior leadership and

The Quetta Experience

other Afghan groups through ISI. Under strong U.S. pressure to deal with groups
like the Haqqani Network that have inflicted many casualties on U.S., NATO,
and Afghan forces in eastern Afghanistan along the Durand Line, the Army has
for years promised that the groups would be dealt with, but only after Pakistan-
focused groups like TTP and TNSM have first been eliminated. The consistent
finding of this study is that none of the Afghan-focused militant groups are
viewed as threatening to Pakistan and that they provide a useful lever to shape
a future Afghan political environment more to its liking. Over the next few years,
these groups will almost certainly continue to be seen as useful proxies.

The Army lacks sufficient capacity and an adequate counterinsurgency doctrine
to contain the multiple militancies in the country.

For more than a century, the preferred tactic of the British Indian Army was to
“divide and rule” the unruly Pashtun tribes straddling India’s northwest frontier.
The fear was that if the tribes ever combined against them they would be unable
to deal with the resulting threat. A similar situation is now occurring in Pakistan
with many disparate militant groups simultaneously contesting the writ of the
state in Khyber Paktunkhwa, Balochistan, and in the financial capital of Karachi.
Salafist militant groups in the Saraiki belt of southern Punjab that have formed
a nexus with groups in the FATA and Sunni and Shia sectarian groups battling
throughout the country have further added to the internal security problem faced
by the country’s security forces. The Army has thus far dealt with this situation
by applying a form of military triage. It employs its regular forces to deal directly
with TTP and TNSM in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the FATA, uses the paramilitary
Frontier Scouts and Pakistan Rangers to deal with the situations in Balochistan
and Karachi respectively, and lets the police handle law and order issues and the
sectarian problems in southern Punjab and Sindh.
The Army’s dilemma, as this study has made abundantly clear, is that its
doctrine for dealing with radical militant groups is largely ineffective. The Army
has demonstrated only that it can clear militants from contested areas and
then occupy those areas indefinitely to prevent their return. The state’s civilian
institutions, where they exist at all, are too weak, too corrupt, and too ineffective
to deal with the root causes leading to militancy in the first place. About a third
of the Army’s current strength has been tied down in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and
the FATA since 2009, and it faces the prospect of an even larger percentage
being required when the current North Waziristan Agency operation is
completed. Should the Army be forced to take on a direct fight against militants
in Balochistan and Karachi, as much as half its strength would similarly be tied
down, a level of effort that would be unsustainable over time.
Exacerbating this doctrinal problem is the simple fact that after nearly

David O. Smith

a decade of war against the militants, the military capacity of the Army is
steadily being used up. Always short on the combat multipliers that more
modern forces use in counterinsurgency operations like helicopters, night vision
equipment, precision guided munitions, hardened vehicles, counter-IED systems,
secure communications equipment, and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and
reconnaissance) systems, the Army now faces the necessity to replace or rebuild
more prosaic items like armored and wheeled vehicles, mortars and artillery, and
ammunition. All of this will require financial resources that the Pakistani state
sorely lacks. It also complicates existing plans to mount a credible conventional
defense against India’s slowly but inexorably modernizing military establishment.

The Army’s desire to maintain its traditional influence over key foreign policy
and national security decisions will continue to create friction in civil-military

The consistent attitude of virtually all Pakistani students at the Staff College
is that the Army is the only remaining state institution that is fully functional, has
not become corrupted, is merit-based, and is responsible enough to be trusted
with making decisions on key foreign policy and national security matters. The
Army has ruled Pakistan directly for only 31 of its 67 years of independence.
But even when it is technically out of power, it exerts enormous influence over
national security decision making and key foreign relationships, exercising
what amounts to a veto function over civilian decisions with which it disagrees.
Political leaders who have tried to alter this fraught civil-military relationship
have suffered great embarrassments and reversals of policy. For example, when
President Asif Ali Zardari assumed power in 2008 he tried to bring the military’s
powerful ISI under the oversight of the Ministry of the Interior. Within 24 hours
of making the announcement, the government, under tremendous military
pressure, was forced to reverse the decision.285 Failing to heed the lesson,
Zardari, a few months later, while speaking via satellite from Islamabad to an
Indian audience, was asked if he could give an assurance that Pakistan would
not be the first country in South Asia to use nuclear weapons. He replied, “I
can assure you that Pakistan will not be the first country ever to use (nuclear
weapons)….I have always been against the very concept of nuclear weapons.”
Though not as publicly rebuked this time, the powerful Chief of Army Staff,
General Ashfaq Kayani, made it clear that the Army’s view was different. Nothing
more was said on the subject by Zardari.286
Dismissed twice in his previous tenures as prime minister, the second
time by a military coup, Nawaz Sharif has so far scrupulously avoided putting
himself in the situations described above. He has given the Army a free hand
in the nuclear area, selected a new COAS and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of

The Quetta Experience

Staff Committee within the normal limits of seniority, and increased the military
budget two years running. Nevertheless, a major area of friction with the Army
quickly arose with the government’s decision to postpone the Army’s long-
planned operation against Pakistan-focused militants in North Waziristan Agency
of the FATA while attempting to negotiate a peace deal with the TTP. This irritant
was resolved only after a government decision to green-light the operation
following two attacks by the TTP on Karachi International airport.287 For his part,
the current COAS, General Raheel Sharif, seems to have everything he wants
in the civil-military relationship. The national support the Army received after the
North Waziristan operation began has been further augmented by the continuing
political weakness of Nawaz Sharif.288 What is increasingly clear is that the Army
has regained the political stature it had before 2011, and it is in an increasingly
better position to protect its institutional equities.

Because of the Army’s visceral distaste for politicians and the media, an eventual
return to military rule cannot be ruled out.

The study found that virtually all Pakistani students are ambivalent about civilian
governance, supporting it strongly in principle, but criticizing it harshly in practice.
Despite Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to placate Army sensitivities, areas of friction
remain. Whether or not another friction point will arise over the Pakistan-India
relationship is an open question. Other potential friction points not yet resolved
include the fate of former Chief of Army Staff Musharraf, who is currently being
tried for high treason for his actions as president during a time of military rule,
and judicial inquiries into the fate of “disappeared” militants being held by the
Army in Balochistan and other areas.
It seems doubtful that any of these issues would so outrage the current
senior leadership that it would risk a cutoff of U.S. military and economic
assistance at a time when the country so desperately needs both. While the
Army almost certainly doesn’t wish to have its reputation besmirched by a
lengthy trial, Musharraf has only himself to blame for his present predicament.
He was almost certainly warned well in advance that the Army didn’t want him
to return to Pakistan to engage in partisan politics. And in light of the problems
the judiciary has had in convicting even hard-core terrorists or militants captured
on the battlefield, it is unlikely that any Army officers will face conviction even
if cases of extra-judicial killing of captured militants are brought before them.
Given the country’s abrupt abandonment of Musharraf after he unwisely tried
to compel the country’s chief justice of the Supreme Court to resign, the bar for
another military coup seems very high.
However, it is historical fact in Pakistan that there has never been any period
of civilian governance lasting longer than 11 years before a military coup toppled

David O. Smith

it. Pakistan is now entering its eighth year of civilian rule. Potential triggers for
a future coup might include a collapse of the national economy that triggers
widespread unrest, the inability of the government to cope with a major natural
disaster like the 2005 earthquake or 2010 floods, or a spate of militant attacks so
widespread that the country is plunged into chaos.

The safety and security of nuclear weapons or nuclear materials remain at
risk because of the size and scope of the program and Pakistan’s steadily
deteriorating internal security environment.

Many observers consider Pakistan to be the fastest growing nuclear power in
the world. It presently possesses the world’s sixth largest nuclear arsenal with
an estimated 120 weapons and is estimated to be producing enough fissile
material for 20 additional weapons each year.289 When the fourth reactor at its
Khushab nuclear complex comes on line, Pakistan could surpass the United
Kingdom, China, and France within a decade to become the third ranking
nuclear power.290 Yet this extraordinary expansion in nuclear weaponry is taking
place amid a steadily eroding internal security environment in every province of
Pakistan. In 2013, there were 355 terrorist attacks that resulted in the deaths of
5,379 people, with many of these attacks aimed directly at the country’s security
It is only natural to wonder whether Pakistan has the capacity not only to
manage this growing nuclear arsenal, but to protect it from the bewildering
array of extremist groups that have proliferated throughout the country. In its
public statements on this issue, senior officers of the Strategic Plans Division
appear to have a misplaced complacency about safety and security that seems
unwarranted by the eroding internal security situation throughout the country.
As long as the fissile material, associated nuclear components, and warheads
remain in fixed sites they are likely to be safe and secure. However, the rapidly
increasing size of the program, the thousands of personnel involved, and the
continuous traffic in fissile material from reactors to manufacturing facilities to
warhead assembly facilities to storage sites means that transportation is the
weakest link in the system. The situation will likely become even worse as the
arsenal of smaller tactical nuclear warheads steadily grows.

The Army’s eroding conventional military balance and institutional weaknesses
in the military establishment will likely compel Pakistan to escalate quickly to the
nuclear level to avoid defeat in any future war with India.

Many weaknesses in the Staff College curriculum have been discussed in
this study. They include the lack of an effective joint warfighting doctrine, the

The Quetta Experience

inadequacy of the Army’s existing conventional ground doctrine, a lack of
awareness of the decisive power of modern airpower, and a lack of emphasis on
logistics. These deficiencies exacerbate Pakistan’s rapidly eroding conventional
military balance with India, a situation that is accelerating due to the decade-long
military confrontation with militant groups in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the FATA.
All these things are complicated by social and cultural practices that prevent the
Army from being able to constructively criticize itself or objectively examine its
past failures. The result is that in the event of a future Indian conventional attack
on Pakistan, early escalation to the nuclear level seems inevitable.

David O. Smith


This study has focused only on the top 40 to 50 percent of the Pakistan Army
officer corps—those that passed the examination required to enter the Staff
College. The attitudes and values of the 50 to 60 percent of the officer corps
that were not selected to attend the Staff College are unknown and likely will
never become known because of the inability of U.S. interlocutors to gain
access to them. Similarly, the attitudes of the largest part of the Army, its
junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and enlisted soldiers, are and will remain
unknown for the same reason. The attitudes and values of these groups are
important because any military organization tempts fate if it becomes alienated
from the outlook of the majority of its soldiers, a situation that would irreparably
damage its cohesion and discipline. In this regard, the Iranian Revolution is a
cautionary tale. But this does not appear to be the case with the Pakistan Army.
To the contrary, the views expressed by Pakistani students at the Staff College
seem mostly congruent with those of the country as a whole, and almost
certainly coincide with the majority of the officer corps and the Army.292
Even if it were not so, the Pakistan Army has demonstrated repeatedly over
the 67 years of its existence that it is a disciplined, hierarchical organization
that is obedient to the orders of its senior leadership. Despite occasional
grumbling and several conspiracies involving small numbers of officers, the
Army’s discipline has held firm even when its leaders made spectacularly bad
decisions that led directly to national catastrophes like the two lost wars in 1965
and 1971, or to embarrassing military failures like the Kargil operation in 1999.
As an institution, the Pakistan Army has shown a remarkable congruence in its
values and attitudes, in good times and bad, in times of military rule and civilian
governance. Therefore, the attitudes and values of the Staff College students that
are summarized above can be taken as a reasonably accurate representation of
the attitudes and values not only of past military generations of officers, but of
the current and next generation as well.
If this statement is correct, the question arises as to what accounts for
the relative immunity of the Army officer corps to the demographic, class, and
religious influences sweeping through Pakistan and other states in the region?
The answer to this question is rooted in the cultural dynamics of the Pakistani
state. As scholar Anatol Lieven has correctly observed, “A fundamental political
fact about Pakistan is that the state, whoever claims to lead it, is weak, and
society in its various forms is immensely strong. Anyone or any group with the
slightest power uses it among other things to plunder the state for patronage

The Quetta Experience

and favors, and to turn to their advantage the workings of the law and the
In other words, the structural weaknesses of the Pakistani state are offset
to a large degree by the strength of its societal and cultural mores. Power is not
based solely on freely given electoral power as it is in Western democracies.
It is also rooted in various hereditary clan-based, tribal, religious, or feudal
kinship groups.294 This isn’t a one-way street. The system imposes strong social
and cultural obligations on elites and followers alike, on leaders to provide a
degree of protection and patronage to their followers, and on followers to obey
their leaders unflinchingly. In a country with no economic safety net, such
relationships ameliorate what might otherwise be an intolerable situation for the
lower strata of society. In this societal context, the Pakistan Army can be viewed
as another form of kinship group, but it is one that demands and has gained a
level of loyalty among its members transcending the claims of other groups that
are based on ethnicity, class, religion, clan, tribal, or feudal loyalty.
This bond of loyalty to the Army by its members is reinforced on a daily
basis by the attitudes and values of the institution that are inculcated in every
officer cadet and newly recruited soldier from the first day to the last day of his
(and increasingly her) service.295 These attitudes and values, which can also be
described as the Army’s ideology, ethos, or organizational culture, can be briefly
summarized as follows:

• The Army is the custodian of Pakistani nationalism;
• It guarantees Pakistani sovereignty viz its principal existential threat, India;
• It is the only national institution that is competent and honest;
• It is the only national institution that can be trusted to safeguard the
national interest;
• It is a vehicle for social mobility because promotion is based solely on
merit and demonstrated good performance.

These values are reinforced not only through the military education system,
but through a comprehensive system of patronage that is distributed through
the military’s infrastructure and its vast business empire. It is beyond the
scope of this paper to describe this system in detail.296 Suffice it to say that the
average officer and soldier receives better pay, better food and housing, better
medical care, and better education for his children than the average Pakistani.
When they retire, they receive free medical care for life and frequently are given
jobs commensurate with their military rank in one of the military’s business
enterprises. This system might be thought of as the Pakistani equivalent of
cradle-to-grave socialism. What the Army demands in return for this largesse is
loyalty, faithful adherence to its values, and strict obedience to its orders.

David O. Smith

These attitudes and values are reinforced by the Army’s educational system
and its paternalistic training methods. Officer candidates are initially socialized
into the system at the Pakistan Military Academy at Abbottabad and the soldiers
at various regimental training centers. Because the soldiers are more likely than
officers to be influenced by their various kinship groups in the villages from
which they are recruited, their initial training, unlike that imparted in Western
military establishments, is designed not to forcibly bend the individual to the will
of the institution, but to gradually inculcate the desired attitudes and values over
time. Initial training in the regimental training centers is approximately 36 weeks
in duration, is done slowly and gently compared to Western military practices,
and it typically includes a lengthy period of education and language training
in Urdu before more focused military training is begun. This training model is
designed to slowly, almost imperceptibly, wean recruits away from the attitudes
and values of the previous kinship groups in their place of origin, bring them to
an acceptable level of education, teach them the national language, and inculcate
in them a strong sense of loyalty to their regiment, the nation, and the Army as
an institution.
After this initial training has been completed, the Army uses other
methods to reinforce its desired attitudes and values. As far as possible, the
Army attempts to segregate itself in the former British colonial style in heavily
protected military cantonments away from the influence of other kinship groups
and where the housing, utilities, food, medical care, and personal security for
their families are superior to that found in almost every other part of Pakistan.
The stark difference between the cleanliness and tranquility of the cantonment
and the chaos of the cities and poverty of the villages reinforces in the mind
of every military member the superiority of the Army as a national institution.
Religion is frequently used as a motivating influence in the Army, but since
the 1995 Conspiracy, the mullahs allowed to preach in cantonment mosques
are carefully vetted and their sermons closely monitored for radical messages.
Although outside observers sometimes find the religious slogans the military
uses troubling, a longtime military observer and frequent lecturer at the Staff
College in the 1980s and 1990s, Colonel (ret) Abdul Qayyum, explained the
Army’s motivation for this technique:

You shouldn’t use bits of Islam to raise military discipline, morale,
and so on. I’m sorry to say that this is the way it has always been
used in the Pakistan Army. It is our equivalent of rum—the generals
use it to get their men to launch suicidal attacks. But there is no
such thing as a powerful jihadi group within the army. Of course,
there are many devoutly Muslim officers and jawans, but at heart
the vast majority of the army are nationalists, and take whatever is

The Quetta Experience

useful from Islam to serve what they see as Pakistan’s interests. The
Pakistani army has been a nationalist army with an Islamic look.297

And, as has been previously described, the Army also employs its Military
Intelligence Directorate and ISI to closely monitor the reliability of the officer
corps, particularly those being considered for sensitive operational assignments
and overseas training or assignment, and to regularly “take the temperature” of
the soldiers in the cantonments.
A final question can now be posed. Is there any potential for future
factionalism in the Pakistan Army? None was noted by the Students in this
study and none seems apparent now. This demonstrates the Army’s success in
fostering its own institutional attitudes and values to supplant the attitudes and
values of the kinship groups from which the officers and soldiers were originally
recruited. In short, both groups emerge with new identities. The process is
summarized in the words of a Pakistani officer who explained to Lieven:

You rise on merit—well mostly—not by inheritance, and you salute
the military rank and not the sardar or pir who has inherited his
position from his father, or the businessman’s money. These days,
many of the generals are the sons of clerks and shopkeepers, or
if they are from military families, they are the sons of havildars
[NCOs]. It doesn’t matter. The point is that they are generals.298

The history of the Pakistan Army demonstrates that ethnicity, social class,
and religious orientation (as long as it is moderate) have very little weight in
terms of promotion and assignment to sensitive duties. What matters most
is loyalty to the Army as an institution and demonstrated professional military
merit. There have been three outright military coups in Pakistan, but none was
mounted by an officer other than the man at the very top, the commander-in-
chief or chief of army staff. As long as the Army’s discipline and cohesion are
maintained, and, despite occasional concerns expressed about the reliability of
individual officers and very small groups of disgruntled individuals, there is little
reason to believe this situation will change in the future.
One final note: In the past, U.S. policymakers occasionally have convinced
themselves that actions based on the Pakistan Army’s attitudes and values, what
has been called at various times its strategic imperatives, strategic calculus,
or “compulsions” (in the Army’s parlance), were somehow adopted through
a process of unthinking carelessness rather than by careful deliberation and
conviction. These actions, they believe, can be reversed by the application of
a carefully calibrated mix of diplomatic and military “carrots and sticks.” Such
shallow thinking inevitably precedes policy failure. Two examples demonstrate

David O. Smith

the difficulty—and futility—of basing U.S. policy toward Pakistan on such a
premise. The first is the decades-long attempt by the United States to coerce
Pakistan to abandon its nuclear program. Despite providing billions of dollars in
military and economic assistance in the 1980s, the Pakistan Army was willing
to forego all of it and more in order to match India’s nuclear capability, a goal
that was rooted in the Army’s perception of national survival. A second similarly
futile attempt was made in 2009 and 2010 to “change Pakistan’s strategic
calculus” and end its support to Afghanistan-focused militant groups that were
operating against U.S. and NATO military forces in Afghanistan.299 This U.S.
initiative was marked by three rounds of Strategic Dialogue in 2010 hosted by
the U.S. Secretary of State. For each of the three rounds, the Pakistani position
was made perfectly clear in white papers ostensibly written, or at least certainly
approved, by the chief of army staff. The effort eventually collapsed amid the
recriminations and harsh feelings engendered by the events of 2011 discussed
above. The final point is simply this: the Army’s attitudes and values have
changed very little in the 37 years of this study, and there is no reason to expect
they will change appreciably in the future, and certainly not in the next decade.


1. Interview with 2015-2016 Student A, January 16, 2017. The Student indicated that the decision to
withdraw the two students from the course resulted in an immediate response from the highest
levels of the Pakistani government and military: the Chief of Army Staff called the Commander
of Central Command to protest the decision, the Foreign Minister called the U.S. Ambassador
for an explanation, and the Pakistani Defense Attaché in Washington made a personal call on the
Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency to protest. The issue ultimately reached the desk of
the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, who deferred to the ambassador’s decision.
2. Official White House transcript, Remarks by President Trump and Prime Minister Modi of India in
Joint Press Statement, June 26, 2017.
3. Jim Garamone, “President Unveils New Afghanistan, South Asia Strategy,” DoD News, Defense
Media Activity, August 21 2017,
president-unveils-new-afghanistan-south-asia-strategy/; Hamza Ameer, “US warns Pakistan
to act against Haqqani Network or face their wrath,” July 5, 2017, India Today, http://indiatoday.; “Trump’s tweet on
Pakistan’s “lies” draws angry response,” January 2, 2018, CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.
4. Direct Overt U.S. Aid Appropriations for and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-
FY2019, prepared by the Congressional Research Service for distribution to multiple
congressional offices, March 16, 2018. The FY2018 NDAA authorizes $700 million for CSF,
with $350 million ineligible for waiver. The administration did not issue certifications for CSF in
FY2015 or FY2016. A decision on FY2017 certification is pending.
5. U.S.-India bilateral trade in 2016 was approximately $66 billion, making India the 18th largest
trading partner of the United States. U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Economic
Indicators Division,
6. “Bajwa doctrine helps Pakistan stand up to US: report,” Pakistan Today, February 17, 2018,
7. Salmon Masood, “Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Is Toppled by Corruption Case,” New
York Times, July 28, 2017,
8. Rahul Bedi, “Indian army’s anger over Kashmir killings,” BBC News, September 19, 2016, http:// and “Kashmir attack: India ‘launches strikes against
militants,’” BBC News, September 30, 2016,
9. Ajai Shukla, “Viewpoint: India and Pakistan up the ante on disputed border,” BBC News,
January 30, 2018, and Happymon Jacob,
“The unquiet front,” Indian Express, February 8, 2018,
10. Maria Abi-Habib and Hari Kumar, “India and Pakistan Agree to Truce on Kashmir Border,” New
York Times, May 30, 2018,
11. “Pakistan Assessment – 2018,” South Asia Terrorism Portal website,
12. A Foreign Area Officer (FAO) is a commissioned officer from any of the four branches of the
armed forces. They are regionally focused experts in political-military operations possessing

The Quetta Experience

a unique combination of strategic focus; regional expertise; political, cultural, sociological,
economic, and geographic awareness; and foreign language proficiency in at least one of the
dominant languages in their specified region. A FAO will typically serve overseas as a defense
attaché, a security assistance officer, or in the United States as a political-military planner in a
service headquarters, Joint Staff, Major Command, Unified Combatant Command, or agencies
of the Department of Defense. They may also serve as arms control specialists, country desk
officers, liaison officers, and Personal Exchange Program officers to host nations or coalition
allies.  Their roles and responsibilities are extensive and varied. They advise senior leaders
on political-military operations and relations with other nations, provide cultural expertise to
forward-deployed commands conducting military operations, build and maintain long-term
relationships with foreign leaders, develop and coordinate security cooperation, execute security
assistance programs with host nations, and develop reports on diplomatic, information, military,
and economic activities. Each service has its own process for developing Foreign Area Officers
to address their specific needs. See the Foreign Area Officer Association website at http://www.
13. See ANNEX A.
14. Interview with 1987 Student, April 2, 2013.
15. Ambassador Dennis Kux used this analogy in a talk given to the Middle East Institute in
Washington, D.C. on January 30, 2007. The best account of the U.S.–Pakistan relationship
from the U.S. perspective is his masterful work, The United States and Pakistan, 1947-2000:
Disenchanted Allies (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2001). See also David O. Smith, “Facing
Up to the Trust Deficit: The Key to an Enhanced U.S.-Pakistan Defense Relationship,” Strategic
Insights, Volume VI, Issue 4 (June 2007), For a
Pakistani perspective, see Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military (Lahore:
Vanguard Books, 2005) and Haqqani’s Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States and an
Epic History of Misunderstanding (New York: Public Affairs Books, 2013).
16. According to the Congressional Research Service, Pakistan (as of March 2014) has since 2002
received $7.274 billion in security-related assistance from the United States, $10.067 billion in
economic-related assistance, and $11.040 billion in coalition support funds reimbursements. See
17. Pew Global Attitudes survey, May 7, 2013,
18. Available at
19. Jamshed Baghwan, “U.S. personnel exit ‘almost complete’: Official,” The Express Tribune, June
14, 2011,
20. Kamran Yousaf, “NATO raid upshot: Angry Pakistan threatens to derail Afghan endgame,” The
Express Tribune, November 28, 2011,
21. Derived from an examination of the National Security Strategy, May 2010, and the President’s
guidance to the Department of Defense, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for
21st Century Defense,” January 3, 2012. See also Robert D. Blackwill, “Pakistan, Taliban and
Global Security, Part II,” Yale Global Online, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, http://; http://www.; and
22. C. Christine Fair, “Has the Pakistan Army Islamized? What the Data Suggest,” Mortara Center

David O. Smith

Working Paper, Georgetown University, January 2, 2011, 2. https://repository.library.georgetown.
23. Statements made separately by two U.S. government officials in a position to know this
information. Both wished to remain anonymous.
24. Fair, “Has the Pakistan Army Islamized? What the Data Suggest,” 6.
25. The institution has had a variety of names over time: Indian Staff College (1905-1947), Staff
Tactical and Administrative College (1947), Staff College and Tactical School (1948), Staff
College and Tactical Wing (1949), and Command and Staff College (1957-present). Hereafter it
will be referred to simply as the Staff College. A Century of Excellence (1905-2005), Faculty of
Research and Doctrinal Studies (FORADS), (Quetta: Command and Staff College, 2005), 230.
26. Statement by Lieutenant General (ret) Syed Muhammad Amjad, Commandant from 1995-1998,
Ibid, 157.
27. Judith Brown and William Roger Louis, The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume IV: The
Twentieth Century (London: Oxford University Press, 1999), 4.
28. A Century of Excellence, 1-2, 304.
29. Shuja Nawaz, Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within (Karachi: Oxford
University Press, 2008), 20, 30.
30. This story was told to the author many times when he was a student at the Staff College.
31. A Century of Excellence, 41-43 and the Staff College website,
32. Occasionally, the commandant has briefly held the rank of Lieutenant General.
33. A Century of Excellence, 45 and the Pakistan Army website,
34. A Century of Excellence, 134. The degree originally was Bachelor of Science (Honours) in War
Studies. All Pakistani students were eligible to receive the degree. The 1982 Student recalled
a curious requirement that was applied to foreign students: they had to produce their original
degree certificate—a notarized transcript with a raised seal from the university granting the
degree was not sufficient. The Student could not produce the document since it was in storage
in the United States and did not receive the degree. When he returned to the United States
and found the document, he mailed a photocopy to the school and received his degree several
months later.
35. Ibid., 146.
36. Ibid., 150.
37. Interview with the author, November 5, 2013. The officer asked that his name not be used.
38. In 1983, Lieutenant Colonel Mahmud Ahmad, a DS at the Staff College, was tasked with this
responsibility. He remained on the faculty for more than six years doing research. His book,
Illusion of Victory: A Military History of the Indo-Pak War 1965 (Karachi: Lexicon Publishers,
2002), was eventually published in two versions—one for the Army’s book club—and another
he paid for privately because the Army version was heavily edited to remove criticism he had
leveled at several Army senior leaders for their decision making during the war. Mahmud retired
as a lieutenant general and director general of Inter-Services Intelligence in 2001. This account
was provided by him to the author in 2007.
39. The Hamoodur Rahman Commission was set up after the military government of General
Yahya Khan resigned in December 1971. It was chaired by Chief Justice Hamoodur Rahman,
whose remit was to investigate both the circumstances surrounding the 1971 war and why the
commander of the Eastern Military Command surrendered his command. The conclusions were
highly critical of the military, the conduct of politicians, and intelligence failures of ISI. All copies
were destroyed except one that the new government of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto elected not to make
public. In 2000, portions of the report were leaked to the press and subsequently suppressed.

The Quetta Experience

The leaked portions are available at
40. So named because of the color of the paper on which they were printed.
41. Told to the author in April 2014. The officer asked that his name not be cited.
42. In 1982 the combat arms/logistics percentages were 93/4; in 2012, the percentages were 86/13.
43. ANNEX E.
44. A Century of Excellence, 49-52.
45. See ANNEX F for examples of guest speakers and seminar topics.
46. There is no equivalent position in the U.S. Army. The brigade major position is roughly equivalent
to a combination of brigade executive officer (XO, or second in command) operations officer (S-
3), and intelligence officer (S-2) of a maneuver brigade.
47. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
48. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
49. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
50. Extracted from 1980 Student End of Year Report.
51. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
52. Interview with 2013-2014 Student, March 24, 2015.
53. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
54. Interview with 2004 Student, September 9, 2013.
55. Interview with 2012-2013 Student A, August 27, 2013.
56. Interview with the 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013.
57. CIA World Factbook,
58. Interview with the 2001 Student, January 3, 2014.
59. Urdu speakers in Karachi are almost always Muhajirs, Urdu-speaking refugees who came to
Pakistan from central India after the 1947 Partition,
60. See, for example, Zafarullah Khan, “Federalizing the armed forces,” The Friday Times, September
9, 2013,
61. Information Brief by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), 2007, paragraph 27, http://www. This booklet was apparently aimed
at rebutting information about the Army’s business and land interests that was published in a
widely read book by Ayesha Siddiqa called Military INC.: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy
(Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2007).
62. For example, Punjabi officers living in major cities like Karachi, Quetta, or Peshawar when they
entered the service would pad the figures for Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
63. C. Christine Fair and Shuja Nawaz, “The Changing Pakistan Army Officer Corps,” The
Journal of Strategic Studies 34(1): 63–94,
64. Told to the author in November 2014 by a retired senior officer who asked to remain anonymous.
65. 2010 estimate,
66. Students reporting estimates were 1985—20 percent; 1990 A—80 percent; 2008-2009—30-
40 percent; 2009-2010—33-40 percent, including 15 percent whose fathers were junior
commissioned officers (JCOs); 2010-2011 A—10 percent JCO fathers; 2010-2011 B—“half”;
2011-2012 A—50 percent; 2011-2012 B—15 percent JCO fathers; 2012-2013 A—20 percent;
2012-2013—70 percent.
67. Fifteen in 1987; 11 in 1989; 14 in 1990; 12 in 1993; and 10 in 2010-2011.
68. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.

David O. Smith

69. The author recalls that in 1996 there were seven serving lieutenant generals in the Pakistan
Army that graduated from a single class at CCHA. Cadet College Hasan Abdal website, http://
70. Military College Jhelum website,
71. Interview with 2003 Student, February 9 and July 3, 2013.
72. Interview with 2010-2011 Student, April 13 and October 19, 2013.
73. Muhammad Ali Jinnah is the founding father of Pakistan, serving as the country’s first governor-
general until his premature death from tuberculosis in 1948. He is generally credited with
wanting Pakistan to be a homeland for Muslims in the Subcontinent, but desiring that the state
be politically secular and tolerant of other religions.
74. Nawaz, op cit., 384. In fairness to Zia, a former commandant told the author that ballroom
dancing was a standard feature at the Quetta Club until 1975 and that drinking in the college
mess was permitted until 1976. Both of these practices were ended not by Zia, but by Zulfikar
Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s prime minister, who was overthrown by Zia in 1977.
75. Ibid., 477. See also
76. These procedures were explained to the author in early 1996 by then-Director General of
Military Intelligence, Major General Ali Kuli Khan. They included steps to regularize the selection
of the mullahs who preach to soldiers in the military cantonments, close scrutiny of their
sermons, vetting of officers for assignment to command and sensitive staff positions, additional
vetting for officers selected for overseas schooling, and the use of field military intelligence
units to routinely “take the temperature” of troops in each unit. Since then, several other senior
officers have corroborated this information.
77. C. Christine Fair, “Is Pakistan’s Army as Islamist as we think? New data suggest it may be even
more liberal than Pakistani society as a whole,” Foreign Policy, September 15, 2011, https://
78. Farooq Qaiser Gondal, “Letter from Pakistan: The Changing Face of Pakistan’s Army,”
Washington Times Communities, October 29, 2011,
79. “Brig Ali Khan, four Army officers convicted over Hezbut Tahrir links,” Dawn, August 3, 2012,
80. Interview with 1985 Student, April 30, 2013.
81. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
82. Interview with 1993 Student, February 5 and August 24, 2013.
83. The issue of beards at the Staff College is always a matter of interest to Western diplomats.
Military attaches attending the annual Staff College graduation were (and likely still are) expected
to return with that year’s “beard count.” In 2002, the author, then serving as the U.S. Army
Attache in Islamabad, was asked directly (and jocularly) by his ISI escort officer what the beard
count had been that year. Somewhat taken aback, he eventually replied that he had counted 30.
The ISI escort laughed and said he was very much mistaken; the correct number was only 15.
He then explained that neatly trimmed beards were simply a style choice; the beard had to be at
least four inches long below the chin to count as a symbol of Islamic piety.
84. Interview with 1996 Student, March 7, 2013.
85. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 2013.
86. Interview with 2003 Student, February 9 and July 3, 2013.
87. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
88. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 29, 2013.
89. Interview with 2013-2014 Student, March 24, 2015.
90. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.

The Quetta Experience

91. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013, and Statement by 1982 Student.
92. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
93. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 19, 2013.
94. A Century of Excellence, 148.
95. Interview with 1990 Student A, April 15, 2013.
96. A Century of Excellence, 153.
97. Interview with 1993 Student, February 9 and August 24, 2013.
98. The Pakistan Military Academy was founded in 1947 on the model of Britain’s Royal Military
Academy at Sandhurst. A key difference today is that approximately 80 percent of Sandhurst
cadets have a university degree before they enter the 44-week commissioning course.
Pakistani cadets, unless they intend to serve in an engineering and technical branch and have
already earned a university degree, generally lack any academic qualification. The two-year
PMA curriculum is divided more or less equally between academic and military subjects,
hence the 2008-2009 Student’s derogatory comment that it amounted only to a junior college
education. Actually, it amounts to less than a junior college education. Within the past three
years, according to a statement made to the author in April 2014 by a retired Pakistan Army
senior officer who was responsible for implementing the program, the PMA has affiliated
with the National University for Science and Technology (NUST) to award a bachelors degree
to graduating cadets. The degree, however, is only awarded two years after their original date
of commissioning provided they successfully complete the Young Officers course at both the
School of Infantry and Tactics and their assigned arm or branch, both approximately 20-week
courses, and they successfully complete a year-long NUST self-study course that includes a
written thesis.
99. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
100. Lieutenant General (ret) M. Attiqur Rahman, “The Staff College as I Knew It,” Platinum Jubilee
Pamphlet (Quetta: Staff College, 1980), 141.
101. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
102. Interview with a former Staff College Commandant, November 5, 2013. “Minor staff duties” is
a term that describes the precise use of standard abbreviations and various formats for routine
orders and correspondence. In the early years of the study, minor SD was the bane of most
Students’ existence because of the intense amount of effort it required for those not brought up
in the Pakistani military system.
103. Interview with 2001 Student, January 3, 2014.
104. Interview with 1993 Student, February 9 and August 24, 2013.
105. Interview with 2004 Student, September 9, 2013, and the 2010-2011 Student B, April 24, 2013.
106. Interview with 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013.
107. Interview with 1995 Student, February 9 and June 26, 2013.
108. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
109. Interview with 1990 Student A, April 15, 2013.
110. Interview with 1995 Student, February 9 and June 26, 2013.
111. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 29, 2013.
112. Nuclear doctrine will be separately addressed later. The reference to a “focus on nuclear war”
is greatly overstated. Several students mentioned a major exercise only for Pakistani students
has been held the last few years at the time of the allied officer tour of Pakistan. Therefore, any
comment about what is actually done during this exercise is pure conjecture. Interview with
2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
113. End of Tour Report of the 1980 Student, March 8, 1981.
114. Interview with 2002 Student, July 3, 2013; Interview with 2011-2012 Student B, August 28, 2013.

David O. Smith

115. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 2013.
116. Interview with 2001 Student, January 3, 2014.
117. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
118. See ANNEX F. The 1982 syllabus lists 63.5 periods of instruction, each of 40 minutes duration;
the 2011-12 syllabus lists 41 hours of instruction. The times in both syllabi are virtually identical
on the basis of hours.
119. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 29, 2013.
120. Interview with 2012-2013 Student A, August 27, 2013.
121. The Allied Student Coordinator expressed this view privately to the 1982 Student three decades
earlier. Statement by 1982 Student and Interview with the 2012-2013 Student A, August 27,
122. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
123. End of Tour Report of 1980 Student, March 8, 1981.
124. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
125. Interview with 1990 Student B, August 5, 2013. The “paranoia” was apparently not confined to
the Subcontinent. One Pakistani student told his Australian classmate that the Indian Navy had
clear designs on the western coast of Australia and that Pakistan was the only bulwark against
Indian hegemony in the region. Interview with 1990 Student A, April 15, 2013.
126. Interview with 1995 Student, February 9 and June 26, 2013.
127. Interviews with 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013; 2011-2012 Student B, August 28,
2013; and 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
128. Interview with 1993 Student, February 9 and August 24, 2013.
129. Lately the Cold Start concept is referred to in the Staff College curriculum as Pro-Active
Operations, or PAO.
130. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 15, 2013.
131. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
132. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
133. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
134. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 29, 2013.
135. Interview with 2013-2014 Student, March 24, 2015.
136. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
137. End of Tour Report of 1980 Student, March 8, 1981.
138. Statement of the 1982 Student.
139. This refers to Section 620 E of the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961. In 1984, the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted an amendment to the Act that no military or
technology equipment was to be provided to Pakistan unless the president certified Pakistan
did not “possess” a nuclear explosive device and was neither “developing” nor “acquiring” a
nuclear explosive device. This was deleted and another amendment co-sponsored by, among
others, Senator Larry Pressler, was enacted in a separate bill in August 1985. Popularly called
the Pressler amendment, it stated no military or technology equipment was to be provided to
Pakistan unless the U.S. president certified that Pakistan did not “possess” a nuclear explosive
device and that the assistance provided by America would “reduce significantly the risk that
Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device.” In effect, it allowed U.S. aid to Pakistan to
140. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
141. It hasn’t healed yet. The 28 F-16s were initially stored in the U.S. Air Force Aircraft Maintenance
and Regeneration Center in Tucson and eventually given to USAF and USN fighter squadrons.
While Pakistan was eventually compensated for the $368 million it had spent on the aircraft, and

The Quetta Experience

even received 14 of them as “excess defense articles” after 9/11, the remaining 14 that are still
used by the USN continue to be a sore point.
142. Interview with 1990 Student B, August 5, 2013.
143. Interview with 1993 Student, February 9 and August 24, 2013.
144. Interview with 1995 Student, February 9 and June 26, 2013.
145. General Musharraf, then the Chief Executive of Pakistan, has said that the message
communicated to him by Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmed, the Director General of ISI
who was in Washington on 9/11 and met with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage on
September 13, was that if Pakistan chose the wrong side to back it would be “bombed back into
the Stone Age.” Pervez, Musharraf, In the Line of Fire: A Memoir (New York: The Free Press,
2006), 201.
146. Interview with 2004 Student, September 9, 2013.
147. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
148. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
149. Interview with the 2010-2011 Student B (referred to hereafter as “The Student”), April 29, 2013.
150. A term frequently used at the time by former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson.
151. Interviews with the 2011-2012 Students A and B, July 11 and August 28, 2013, respectively.
152. Interview with 2013-2014 Student, March 24, 2015.
153. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
154. Interview with 1994 Student, September 17, 2013.
155. Interviews with 2002 and 2003 Students, together on February 9, 2013 and separately on
August 16 and July 3, 2013.
156. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
157. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
158. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 29, 2013.
159. Interview with 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013.
160. Interview with 1990 Student B, August 5, 2013.
161. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
162. Ibid.
163. Interview with 1987 Student, April 2, 2013.
164. Feroz Khan, Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb (Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University
Press, 2012), 242-243.
165. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
166. A portion of the China-Pakistan border is claimed by India, which refuses to recognize Pakistan’s
1963 cession of territory to China because it is part of the disputed territory of Jammu and
Kashmir; hence, it is still claimed by India. See
167. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, this officer observed, “You chose the wrong side” (referring to
the U.S. support given to Iraq in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war). Interview with 1990 Student B, August
5, 2013.
168. Interview with 2001 Student, January 3, 2014.
169. Interviews with 2010-2011 Student A and 2012-2013 Student B on April 16/October 19 and
August 29, 2013 respectively.
170. See Frederic Grare, “Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations in the Post 9/11 Era,” Carnegie Papers, No.
72 (October 2006), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC, 8-9, http://
171. Interview with 1994 Student, September 17, 2013.
172. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 2013.

David O. Smith

173. Interview with 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013.
174. Interview with 2003 Student, July 3, 2013.
175. Interview with 2012-2013 Student A, August 27, 2013.
176. See Ayesha Siddiqa, “Is Pakistan Like Israel or North Korea?” Express Tribune, June 6,
2010, See also Rajat
Pandit, “New Heights: India, Israel step up defence ties,” Times of India, November 9, 2008,
177. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 20013.
178. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 29, 2013.
179. Interview with 1987 Student, April 2, 2013.
180. For a brief survey of the 1973-1978 Baloch insurgency, see Jason Heeg, Insurgency in
Balochistan (Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Foreign Military Studies Office, no date), http://fmso.
181. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
182. The Hazaras are Shia Muslims. End of Tour Report of 1980 Student, March 8, 1981.
183. Interview with 1981 Student, February 27, 2013 and Statement by 1982 Student. Travel outside
the Quetta Valley involved receiving permission from the Staff College, something that was
occasionally hard to obtain, most likely for bureaucratic inefficiency rather than any effort to
restrict travel. Once, the 1982 Student requested permission to travel to the border town of
Chaman. When the expected negative response was not forthcoming by the day of travel,
he, along with the British, Australian, and Canadian students and their families, proceeded to
Chaman where they were promptly detained by local police and ordered to return to Quetta—
but only after being given refreshments at the police station and being allowed to stroll around
the town with a police escort. When they returned to Quetta, the Senior Instructor of Alpha
Division was livid, no doubt because the incident reflected badly on him.
184. Interview with 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013.
185. Interview with 2003 Student, July 3, 2013.
186. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
187. Interview with 2012-2013 Student B, August 27, 2013.
188. ANNEX A.
189. From the time of the British Raj, Balochistan has been divided into “A” areas where the
government Police has jurisdiction, and “B” areas that are policed by tribal levies. Major cities
like Quetta are “A” areas, and a great deal of the interior remains designated as “B” areas. See
“The Balochistan Levies Force Act, 2010,”
190. Peters is now a military analyst for the Fox News television network.
191. Interview with 1995 Student, February 9 and June 26, 2013.
192. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 16, 2013.
193. Interview with 2003 Student, July 3, 2013.
194. For an overview of Pakistan Army operations in the FATA in the decade after 9/11, see Seth
G. Jones and C. Christine Fair, Counterinsurgency in Pakistan, (Santa Monica, CA: RAND
Corporation, 2010),
195. Interview with 2004 Student, September 9, 2013.
196. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
197. Commonly known as the Northwest Frontier Province, or NWFP, until the 18th Amendment to
the Constitution changed the name in 2010.
198. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.

The Quetta Experience

199. ANNEX F.
200. More than four years after the operation, a large number of residents have still not returned to
their homes in South Waziristan Agency. Interview with 2010-2011 Student B, April 29, 2013.
201. Under Pakistan’s Constitution, the FATA is virtually self-governed by the numerous Pashtun
tribes that occupy both sides of the Durand Line. There are no courts or police forces; “justice”
is meted out through tribal jirgas and enforced by tribal militias. The writ of the government is
exercised through a Political Agent that enforces the government’s authority under the Frontier
Crimes Regulation of 1901. This law calls for the collective punishment of the entire tribe for the
transgressions of any individual members. If force is necessary to impose the Political Agent’s
ruling in the matter, the paramilitary Frontier Scouts are employed. In exceptional circumstances,
the Pakistan Army is called in.
202. Interviews with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013; 2012-2013 Students A and
B, August 27-28, 2013. When COAS General Kayani visited the Staff College in 2013, the allied
students were not allowed to attend his presentation. Later some students said he discussed
the prospects of a military operation in North Waziristan and told them the Army would not
conduct such an operation because it did not have enough troops available to garrison that
agency as it had done in South Waziristan after the 2009 operation. He added that because the
FATA was governed under the century-old Frontier Crimes Regulations, there was no civilian
partner that could assume responsibility for security.
203. It is beyond the scope of this study to describe these events in any further detail. Those
interested can refer to Chapter 15, “The Troika’s Musical Chairs,” in Nawaz, Crossed Swords,
204. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
205. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 2013.
206. Interviews with 2010-2011 Student A and 2012-2013 Student B, April 16/October 19 and August
27, 2013, respectively.
207. There is far more support for Kashmir-focused groups in Punjab than in any other part of
Pakistan. However, since the majority of the Pakistan Army is Punjabi, this support is part of the
Army’s institutional culture.
208. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
209. Interview with 1995 Student, June 26, 2013.
210. Interview with 2002 Student, February 9 and August 16, 2013.
211. Interviews with 2009-2010 Student and 2012-2013 Student B, February 14, 2013 and August 27,
212. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
213. Interview with 1995 Student, June 26, 2013.
214. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
215. Interview with 2009 Student, February 14, 2013.
216. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
217. Interview with 2011-3012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
218. Interview with 2012-2013 Student A, August 27, 2013.
219. Interview with 2004 Student, September 9, 2013.
220. Interviews with 2011-2012 Student B and 2012-2013 Student A, August 27-28 2013.
221. Interviews with 2010-2011 Student A and 2011-2012 Student A, April 16 and October 19 and July
11, 2013, respectively.
222. Interviews with 2011-12 Students A and B, July 11 and August 28, 2013 respectively.
223. Interview with 1977 Student, September 27, 2013.
224. Statement by 1982 Student.

David O. Smith

225. Interview with 1987 Student, April 2, 2013.
226. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
227. Interview with 1993 Student, February 9 and August 24, 2013.
228. Ibid.
229. Interview with 1994 Student, September 17, 2013.
230. Interview with 1996 Student, March 7, 2013.
231. Interview with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 2013.
232. Interviews with 2002 and 2003 Students, February 9 and July 3 and August 16, 2013
233. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
234. Interview with 2010-2011 Student B, April 29, 2013.
235. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
236. Interviews with 2012-2013 Students A and B, August 27-28, 2013.
237. Interviews with 1990 Students A and B, April 15 and August 5, 2013, respectively.
238. Interviews with 1996 and 1997 Students, March 7 and February 9 and July 18, 2013,
239. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had fired the chief of naval staff and made several changes to the
constitution during his first months in office.
240. Ibid.
241. Interview with the 2004 Student, September 9, 2013.
242. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
243. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
244. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
245. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
246. Interview with 2012-2013 Student A, August 27, 2013.
247. The 1997 Student observed that while the government officially banned Indian television
channels, nearly everyone, even in the most remote villages, seemed to have or at least have
access to a satellite dish that allowed them to view Indian and Western television channels.
Interviews with 1997 Student, February 9 and July 18, 2013.
248. The 2003 Student noted many 24-hour cable channels competing for attention and thought the
inflow of media in the Staff College was unstoppable. The government openly took pride in the
freedom of the press in Pakistan, but would have been powerless to curb it entirely even if it
had the desire. Students were required to give a media/news update at the beginning of each
day’s class. Interview with 2003 Student, July 3, 2013.
249. Interview with 2008-2009 Student, April 12, 2013.
250. Interview with the 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
251. Interview with the 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
252. Interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013.
253. For a brief history of this period see David O. Smith, “The US Experience with Tactical Nuclear
Weapons: Lessons for South Asia,” March 4, 2013, published on the Stimson Center website,
254. Platinum Jubilee Pamphlet, 139-140.
255. Statement by the 1982 Student.
256. Interview with 1985 Student, April 30, 2013.
257. The 1987 Student’s DS for this exercise was Lieutenant Colonel Khalid Kidwai, who later
became the head of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division, and the de facto head of Pakistan’s
nuclear forces. He asked him to take the lead on teaching this block of instruction. The Student
resolutely declined to do so, fearing adverse implications if a U.S. Army officer was discovered

The Quetta Experience

providing instruction to Pakistani students about how to employ nuclear weapons. Kidwai
relented and allowed him to observe the exercise without taking a direct part. The SC solution
was a corps nuclear package used against the Indian armor forces with hundreds of weapons
available for notional use. Interview with the 1987 Student, April 2, 2013.
258. These points were synthesized from interviews with the 1985, 1987, 1990 A and B, 1993, 1994,
1995, 1996, and 1997 Students.
259. For more information on the crisis see Polly Nayak, and Michael Krepon, “US Crisis
Management in South Asia’s Twin Peaks Crisis”, September 1, 2006, Stimson Center, http://
260. Nevertheless, the same U.S. Army-derived reference materials that had been in use 20 years
earlier were still available to all students in 2002. They included volumes entitled, Operations of
War, NBCW, Vols I and II; a reprinted 1988 edition of U.S. Army Field Manual 101-30-1, Nuclear
Weapons Doctrine, Employment and Procedures; Pakistan Army General Staff Publications
(GSP) 1529 and 1733 on Biological Warfare and Chemical Warfare; GSPs 1628, 1631, and 1637
on Operations in Nuclear Environment, Parts I-III; a locally produced publication on India’s 1999
nuclear doctrine; and supplementary materials on Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare.
261. ANNEX F and interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
262. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
263. Interview with 2009-2010 Student, February 14, 2013.
264. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013. ISPR generally provides
little information about the Azm-e-Nau series other than to highlight Army-PAF cooperation and
to discuss the ability to defend the country across the full threat spectrum. As an example, see
Press Release No. 106 dated 16 June 2013 that announces the end of Exercise Azm-e-Nau 4,
265. Interview with 2003 Student, July 3, 2013.
266. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
267. Ibid.
268. The United States-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Non-proliferation Enhancement
Act was passed by Congress on October 8, 2008 and signed two days later by Indian External
Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice..
269. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
270. Ibid. and interview with 2011-2012 Student A, July 11, 2013. Alternatively, other students thought
Afghanistan would be used as the launching pad for such an attempt in the future.
271. Interviews with 2011-2012 Student B and 2012-2013 Student A on August 28 and 27, 2013,
272. See ANNEX I for a brief discussion of military generations in the Pakistan Army and the author’s
description of the more recent ones.
273. For example, of 362 Pakistani students in the 2012-2013 Staff College course, four were from
the PAF and four from the PN.
274. During the years of Pressler sanctions, 1990 to 2002, U.S. Army FAOs continued to attend the
Staff College. Pakistani students could not attend U.S. military schools because IMET money
was encumbered by the sanctions. However, beginning in the mid-1990s, an arrangement was
worked out in which students from both countries could attend certain military courses at no
cost on a “reciprocal” basis. In 1995, the “Brown Amendment” waived certain provisions of
the Pressler Amendment to allow a one-time delivery of certain forms of non-lethal military
assistance and to permit humanitarian and counter-narcotics assistance.
275. Interview with 2010-2011 Student B, April 29, 2013.
276. Interviews with 2011-2012 Students A and B, July 11 and August 28, 2013, respectively and the

David O. Smith

2013-2014 Student, March 24, 2015.
277. C. Christine Fair devotes an entire chapter in her new book to a discussion of what constitutes
strategic depth for Pakistan. To many, including this author (Smith), the term simply means the
absence of threat along the Durand Line serious enough to require the Army to divert significant
military resources from a potential Indian military threat on the eastern border. See C. Christine
Fair, Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (New York: Oxford University Press,
278. There is far more support for Kashmir-focused groups in Punjab than in any other part of
Pakistan. Since the majority of the Pakistan Army is Punjabi, support for them is ingrained in the
Army’s institutional culture. Interview with 1989 Student, October 17, 2013.
279. Interviews with 2009-2010 Student and 2012-2013 Student B, February 14, 2013 and August 27,
280. Interview with 2010-2011 Student A, April 16 and October 19, 2013.
281. For a discussion of the various systems and doctrinal problems associated with their fielding see
Smith, “The US Experience with Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Lessons for South Asia.”
282. Interview with 2006 Student, April 16, 2013.
283. Interviews with 2011-2012 Student B and 2012-2013 Student A on August 28 and 27, 2013,
284. Interview with 2003 Student, July 3, 2013.
285. Syed Irfan Raza, “Govt forced to withdraw ISI decision,” Dawn, July 28, 2008, http://www.dawn.
286. “Pakistani Army Chief Said to Oppose ‘No First Use’ Nuke Rule,” Global Security Newswire,
May 9, 2011,
287. “Pakistan Army all set to launch military action in North Waziristan Agency,” The Nation
Online,  June 11, 2014,
288. “Pakistan army backs democracy after Islamabad clashes,” BBC News, August 31, 2014, http://
289. Andrew Bast, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Calculus,” Washington Quarterly, September 14, 2011, http://
290. Estimates of each country’s nuclear arsenal vary slightly with each source. An illustrative
example by the Ploughshares Fund lists the following: Russia—8500 weapons; United
States—7700; France—300; China—250; United Kingdom—225; Pakistan—120; India—100;
Israel—80; and North Korea—less than 10. See
291. The total deaths included 3001 civilians, 676 members of the security forces (police,
paramilitary, and military forces), and 1702 militants. See South Asia Terrorism Portal website,
292. This may be seen by perusing the findings on Pakistan over the last several years in the Pew
Research Global Attitudes Project at
293. Anatol Lieven, Pakistan: A Hard Country (New York: Public Affairs, 2011). I recommend this book
as the best single reference currently available to describe how the Pakistani state actually
works in practice.
294. Hereditary leadership is common even in political parties. On the death of the founder of the
Pakistan Peoples Party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, his daughter, Benazir Bhutto, inherited the mantle of
leadership. On her death by assassination in 2007, the party leadership passed to her spouse,
Asif Ali Zardari, and now has passed on to her son, Bilawal. In the event of the death of Prime

Minister Nawaz Sharif, leadership of his political party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz),
would pass to his brother, Shahbaz Sharif.
295. There are approximately 1000 female officers and 3000 enlisted personnel in the Army. Of
the officers, approximately 600 are medical professionals, but the remaining 400 service in
administrative, logistic, communications, and engineering positions. Muhammad Ali Ehsan,
“Women in Pakistan’s military,” The Pakistan Observer, January 14, 2013,
296. See Siddiqa and the 2007 ISPR Information Brief for more details on the extent and operations
of the various military service business enterprises.
297. Anatol Lieven, “Understanding Pakistan’s Military,” Open Democracy, August 9, 2009, https://
298. Lieven, “Understanding Pakistan’s Military.”
299. The author was serving in a senior intelligence position during this period and had direct
personal knowledge of the initiative.

Study Sample, U.S. Army students attending the Pakistan Army Command and
Staff College since 1977.

Year Number Status Data Collected
1977 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1978 1 Not Found None
1979 No Student N/A None
1980 1 Not Found End of Tour Report
1981 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1982 1 1 Found/Participated Statement
1983 1 1 Found/Participated Questionnaire
1984 1 1 Found/Participated Questionnaire
1985 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1986 1 Not Found None
1987 2 1 Found/Participated; 1 not found 1 Interview
1988 2 2 Not Found None
1989 2 2 Found/2 Participated 2 Interviews
1990 2 2 Found/2 Participated 2 Interviews
1991 No Student N/A None
1992 2 2 Not Found None
1993 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1994 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1995 2 2 Found/1 Participated; 1 Deceased 1 Interview
1996 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1997 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
1998 1 1 Found/Deceased None
1999 1 1 Found/Declined to Participate None
2000 1 1 Found/Declined to Participate None
2001 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
2002 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
2003 1 1Found/Participated Interview
2004 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
2005 No Student N/A None
2006 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
2007 1 1 Found/Participated Questionnaire
2008-2009 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
2009-2010 1 1 Found/Participated Interview
2010-2011 2 2 Found/2 Participated 2 Interviews
2011-2012 2 2 Found/2 Participated 2 Interviews
2012-2013 2 2 Found/2 Participated 2 Interviews

Total Possible Participants: 42
Total Students Found: 37 (89%)
Total Data Samples collected: 31 (74% of total found)

The Quetta Experience

ANNEX B: Study Data Inputs

NOTE: The transcripts of these data inputs occupy 236 single-spaced pages.
Much of the material is repetitious because of the nature of the structured
interview technique used by the author. Additionally, the interview transcripts
contain personal information about each FAO’s background as well as personal
comments about persons they met at the Staff College that are irrelevant to the
findings of the study. For these reasons, and because publishing them would
have tripled the cost of publishing the book, they have been omitted. The page
numbers below refer to where in the transcripts these interviews appear.

INDEX: 1977 Student Interview page 2
1980 Student Extracts from End of Tour Report page 7
1981 Student Interview page 11
1982 Student Written Statement page 15
1983 Student Questionnaire Response page 27
1984 Student Questionnaire Response page 33
1985 Student Interview page 40
1987 Student Interview page 45
1989 Student A Interview page 54
1989 Student B Interview page 61
1990 Student A Interview page 67
1990 Student B Interview page 74
1993 Student Interview page 80
1994 Student Interview page 90
1995 Student Interview page 98
1996 Student Interview page 106
1997 Student Interview page 113
2001 Student Interview page 122
2002 Student Interview page 129
2003 Student Interview page 137
2004 Student Interview page 145
2006 Student Interview page 152
2007 Student Questionnaire Response page 158
2008-9 Student Interview page 166
2009-10 Student Interview page 178
2010-11 Student A Interview page 184
2010-11 Student B Interview page 194
2011-12 Student A Interview page 202
2011-12 Student B Interview page 210
2012-13 Student A Interview page 219
2012-13 Student B Interview page 228

David O. Smith

ANNEX C: Interview Questions/Survey Ques-
1. The Quetta Experience, Demographic Changes, and Social Issues

What is your perception of the level of professionalism of the faculty and students?

What is your perception of the Pakistani faculty and students’ freedom to express their views?

Describe your perception of the Commandant’s vision for the Staff College. How did he express his
own views and attitudes? How did this influence the faculty and students?

What other countries sent students to the Staff College? How were these students treated by the
faculty and students?

Did you observe instances of students cheating or otherwise employing unauthorized techniques to
improve their performance in the course? Was there any punishment for students who were caught
doing so?

What is your perception of the evaluation criteria used by the faculty to rate students?

Did you observe any dissatisfaction among Pakistani students when they received their end of course
evaluation and assignment?

What was your perception of the social class and ethnic origin of Pakistani students and faculty?

How many students came from families with a tradition of military service? If the latter, were their
fathers commissioned officers, junior commissioned officers, or ordinary soldiers?

Did the general attitudes of students from previously under-recruited areas like Balochistan and
Sindh differ from those of students from more traditional recruitment areas like Punjab and Khyber-

What was the general level of religiosity of faculty and students you observed? Were there any
apparent distinctions based on caste or confessional group (Sunni, Shia, Christian, Parsi, etc.)?

Were students critical of the Army leadership in any area?

How did the curriculum of the Staff College compare with that of the U.S. Army Command and
General Staff College?

How adequate was the Pakistan Army doctrine in terms of teaching combined arms operations? In
terms of joint operations?

The Quetta Experience

2. Perceptions of External Threat and Friendship

What was the general attitude of the faculty and students toward the United States, India, China,
Afghanistan, Russia, Iran, and other regional states and how was it expressed?

Did the faculty and students treat foreign students differently based on their attitudes expressed

Was there a difference in attitudes between faculty and students who had attended foreign courses
or lived/studied abroad and those who had not?

What was the perception of faculty and students about Pakistan’s strategic position in South and
Central Asia?

Which country was perceived by faculty and students as posing the greatest long-term threat to
Pakistani interests? Which countries pose a short term threat?

Which countries are deemed by Pakistan to be a friend or an ally?

What opinions were expressed by faculty and students about the potential threats caused by water
issues, climate change, or the Pakistani economy?

3. Perceptions of Internal Threat and Friendship

Describe the Staff College curriculum on internal security operations, frontier warfare, low intensity
conflict, or other sub-conventional military operations. How many hours were devoted to these
topics? What references were used?

What was the attitude of faculty and students to past or present internal security operations in
Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas?

How many faculty and students had direct experience in such operations?

Has training in the Pakistan Army changed as the result of these operations?

Were such operations considered a distraction from more important military missions? Was the
opposite view expressed?

What opinions did faculty and staff express about the presence of extremist militant and sectarian
groups (Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-
e-Jangvi, etc.) operating in Pakistan?

Did any faculty or students admit to having direct knowledge of direct or indirect support provided to
such groups?

Were these or other groups considered to be a net strategic asset or a net strategic liability?

David O. Smith

4. Views of the State and its Institutions

What opinions did faculty and students express about the performance of the government?

Were faculty and students optimistic or pessimistic about the future direction of Pakistan?

What was your perception of the level of public approval of the performance of the government?

How free was the media to criticize the government or the military?

What opinions were expressed by faculty and students about Pakistan’s institutions, such as the
president and prime minister, leaders of major secular and religious political parties, federal and
provincial legislative bodies, the judiciary, and the media (print, radio, television)?

What was the view of faculty and students about the future of democracy in Pakistan, the degree of
corruption in civil society, and the performance of the chief of army staff and/or other senior leaders
of the Army?

If you attended the Staff College during a time when civilians governed the country, how supportive
were faculty and students of a return to military rule?

If you attended the Staff College during a time when the military governed the country, how
supportive were faculty and students of a return to civilian rule?

5. Attitudes Toward Nuclear Issues

Describe the Staff College curriculum on nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) operations. How
many hours were devoted to this issue? How was the material taught, and by whom?

What reference materials were provided for these subjects and what was their probable source?

How knowledgeable were the faculty members about these subjects?

Did the faculty and students express any views about the efficacy of nuclear weapons in a future
conflict with India?

Did faculty or students make any reference about unit training being conducted in these areas?

Was there any discussion about the Pakistani civil nuclear program or leadership?

Was there any discussion about the safety and security of Pakistani nuclear weapons, or about the
command and control of these weapons?

Did faculty or students express an opinion about possible threats to Pakistan’s strategic assets by the
U.S, India, another country, or by domestic extremist groups?

Was there a perception that Pakistan has been treated unfairly because of its clandestine nuclear

program compared to other nuclear countries like India or Israel?

Was there any discussion about a doctrine for the use of Pakistani nuclear weapons?

Was there any discussion about India’s announced nuclear doctrine? Was there skepticism
expressed about India’s public pledge not to be the first country in South Asia to use a nuclear

Was there any discussion about potential redlines for the use of Pakistani nuclear weapons?

What was the students’ attitude about nuclear and related confidence building measures struck with

The Quetta Experience



** Except for 1982 and 2010 (bolded) the totals are not official statistics; the others were obtained
from an examination of the Staff College yearbook, the Review.
The number of 168 for 1987 is artificially low since there were approximately 200 Pakistani students
in that class.

David O. Smith

Note: Pakistan Army infantry regiments are named for provinces and other administrative divisions
of Pakistan and are not ethnically based as their names might imply. Their size varies considerably
with approximately the following number of battalions in each: Punjab, Baloch, and Frontier Force,
50-55; Sindh and Azad Kashmir, 30-35; and Northern Light Infantry, 15.

Columns C-F show final Army rank attained.


Year DS Assigned Brigadier Major General Lt General General Total Selection
that Year 1 star 2 stars 3 stars 4 stars Promoted Rate
(PK Army only)
The Quetta Experience

1975 15 7 4 4 0 15 100%
1976 11 3 2 3 1 9 82%
1977 11 5 3 3 0 11 100%
1978 22 10 2 6 0 18 82%
1979 15 5 6 2 1 14 93%
1980 13 4 6 1 0 11 85%

1981 19 11 3 5 0 19 100%
1982 16 7 4 3 0 14 88%
1983 11 4 1 3 0 8 73%
1984 16 10 3 2 0 15 94%
1985 16 5 4 2 2 13 81%
1986 17 8 3 5 0 16 94%
1987 12 3 5 3 0 11 92%
1988 17 5 6 4 0 15 88%
1989 15 3 7 3 0 13 87%
1990 18 1 7 6 1 15 83%

Total 244 91 66 55 5 217 89%

1990 selected as the cutoff year because final promotion data for DS assigned later was not available
ANNEX E: Directing Staff Promotion Rate
David O. Smith

ANNEX F: Extracts from 1982 and 2010-11
Staff College Syllabuses
1982 Course Extracts

1. Counterinsurgency and Internal Security-Related Subjects

Counterinsurgency—general aspects Tutorial discussion 1 period
Counterinsurgency—tactical aspects Quiz/Tutorial discussion 2
Counterinsurgency-command and control Tutorial exercise 4
Handling of Information Tutorial discussion 1
Flood Relief Operations Tutorial exercise 4
Exercise Al Jabbar Tutorial exercise 6
Desert Warfare Tutorial discussion 1
Mountain Warfare—General Aspects Tutorial discussion 2
Mountain Warfare—Training Tutorial discussion 2
Mountain Warfare—Administration Tutorial exercise 2
Mountain warfare Outdoor exercise 16
Para-military Forces Lecture-PK only 2
Special Forces—Organization and Role Lecture-PK only 2

Total—45 periods (one period = 40 minutes)

2. Joint Operations

Organization of Pakistan Navy (PN) Lecture 1 period
Naval Aviation Lecture 1
Pakistan Fleet Lecture 2
Maritime Compulsions of Pakistan Lecture 2
Tactical Air Operations Lecture 2
Tactical Air Operations Tutorial exercise 2
Tactical Air Operations Central discussion 4
Visit to Samungli Air Base Demonstration 4
Exercise Tri-Brachial
-- Opening/closing addresses Lecture 1
-- Higher Direction of War Lecture 3
-- Formulating Joint Plans Lecture—PK only 1
-- Role and Capability of PN Lecture—PK only 1
-- Role and Capability of Army Lecture—PK only 1
-- Role and Capability of PAF Lecture—PK only 1
-- PK Military in the 1980s Lecture—PK only 1
-- Firepower of PAF and Army Demonstration 6
-- Army, PAF, PN Seminars PK only 6
-- Present Army, PAF, PN Plans PK only 6
-- Discussion of Plans 6
-- Exercise game play Map exercise 16

Total—63 periods (one period = 40 minutes)
The Quetta Experience

3. Nuclear Operations

Introduction to Nuclear Manuals Tutorial discussion 2 periods
Nuclear Weapon Systems Tutorial discussion 2
Simplified Fallout Prediction Tutorial discussion 2
Rear Area Security/Damage Control Tutorial discussion 1
Command and Control Aspects Tutorial discussion 1.5
Operating in a Nuclear Environment Tutorial discussion 6
Exercise Fireball Tutorial exercise 8
Strategic Implications of Nuclear Strategy Lecture* 2

Total—24.5 periods (one period = 40 minutes)

* Lecture by Dr. Munir Ahmed Khan, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission

2010-2011 Course Extracts

1. Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC) and Internal Security-Related Subjects

Introduction to LIC Lecture 1 hour
Asymmetric Warfare Tutorial discussion 2 hours
Frontier Warfare Tutorial discussion 2 hours
Counter-terrorism Lecture 2 hours
Law of Armed Conflict 2 Lectures 4 hours
Balochistan Unrest—1973 Practical exercise 3 hours
Russo-Chechen Conflict Practical exercise 2 hours
Exercise Rah-e-Rast Case Study Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Exercise Rah-e-Nijat Case Study Tutorial exercise 1 hour
Operation Al-Mizan Lecture/Tutorial demo 3 hours
Evolving Situation in Afghanistan Lecture 2 hours
Security Situation in Balochistan Lecture 2 hours
Dynamics of FATA Lecture 2 hours
LIC Conduct of Operations Tutorial Exercise 2 hours
Challenges of Conducting LIC Lecture 2 hours
Fundamental Aspects of LIC in Rural Areas Tutorial/Field Trip 3 hours
LIC in Urban Environment Lecture 2 hours
Training for LIC Tutorial Discussion 2 hours
Appreciation [Operational Estimate] Tutorial exercise 4 hours
Intelligence Collection Plan Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Artillery Support Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Logistic Support in LIC Lecture 2 hours
Logistic Support Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Movement and Deployment Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Air Assault Operations Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Psychological Operations Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Welfare and Humanitarian Assistance Tutorial exercise 2 hours
Redeployment for Other Tasks Tutorial exercise 2 hours
LIC Case Study Tutorial exercise 1 hour

David O. Smith

Exercise Restore Peace Tutorial exercise 6 hours
Exercise Fading Shadows Map Exercise
-- Initial Briefing 1 hour
-- Preparation/Setup of Headquarters 5 hours
-- Verbal Orders from IGFCs/FC Wing Cdrs 6 hours
-- Verbal Orders from GOCs/Bde Cdrs 6 hours
-- Coordination Conference for GOCs/IGFCs 5 hours
-- Chief Controller Briefing/ Conduct of exercise 12 hours
-- Conduct of exercise 12 hours

Total hours: 115

2. UN Peacekeeping Operations

Contemporary UN Peacekeeping Operations Lecture/Demonstration 2 hours
Concept and Planning/Conduct of PKOs Tutorial/Field exercise 2 hours
Staff Aspects/Logistical Support System Tutorial discussion 2 hours

Total hours: 6

3. Joint Operations

Air Operations: Counterair and Combat Support Lecture 1 hour
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) ISR Capability Lecture 2 hours
PAF Future Challenges (PK-only) Lecture 2 hours
PAF Response to Indian Pro-Active Ops Lecture 1 hour
Pakistan Navy (PN) Future Challenges (PK-only) Lecture 2 hours
Joint Sea-Air Operations Lecture 1 hour
Coastal Defense of Pakistan Lecture 2 hours
Planning and Conduct of Joint Operations Lecture/Demonstration 2 hours
Targeting in Mountainous Operations Lecture 1 hour
Maritime Seminar Lecture 2 hours
Amphibious and Anti-Amphibious Ops Tutorial Exercise 3 hours
Exercise Tri Brachial
-- Briefing Map exercise 1 hour
-- Conduct of Mapex Map exercise 20 hours
-- Closing Address Lecture 1 hour

Total hours: 41

4. Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) Operations

Nuclear and Missile Capability of Pakistan
And their Management Lecture 2 hours
NBC Defense Tutorial discussion 1 hour
NBC Defense Command Responsibilities Tutorial discussion 2 hours

Total hours: 5

The Quetta Experience

ANNEX G: Guest Speaker Presentations

The following information was extracted from the annual Staff College yearbook,
The Review, in the year indicated below:

1. 1987

Major General Riaz Amed Chaudhri on Electronic Warfare and Communications Security; Major
General Khalid Latif Moghal, Deputy Director General ISI, on Pakistan’s Threat Perception; Lieutenant
General (ret) Kamal Matinuddin, Dir ISS, on Introduction to Geopolitics; Major General Abdul Waheed,
Adjutant General, on Manpower, Discipline, and Welfare in the Pakistan Army; Major General Naseer
Ahmad Khan, IGT&E, on Training in the Army and Associated Problems; Major General Sabeeh Qamar
uz Zaman, Director General EME, on Introduction to Operational Research and Systems Analysis;
Lieutenant General Zahid Ali Akbar Khan, Chairman, Water and Power Development Authority, on
Pakistan’s Energy Crisis; Brigadier Tariq Mahmud, Commandant SSG, on the Special Services Group;
Major General Muhammad Akram Khan, DGMI, on Land Threat to Pakistan; Mr. Arshad Abdullah, Dir
Pakistan Inst of Management, on Modern Techniques of Management; Mr. Justice Nasim Hassan
Shah, Pakistan Supreme Court, on Islamic Concept of State; Sardar Muhammad Abdul Qayyum Khan,
Pres AJK, on the Kashmir Problem; Dr. Parveen Shaukat Ali, Lahore College for Women, on Evolution
of International Political Order; Mr. Sajjad Hyder, former Ambassador, on Pakistan’s Security Problems
in the Global and Regional Context; Dr. Muhammad Ajmal on Pakistan’s Psychological Environment
and its Effect on National Character; Air Vice Marshal Saeed Kamal, AOC Air Defence Command,
on Air Defence of Pakistan; Dr. Rifat Ahmad, Chancellor University of Punjab, on Education in
Pakistan; Mr. V.A. Jaffrey, Governor, State Bank of Pakistan, on Islamic Economic System; Dr. Amir
Muhammad, Chairman Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, on Agricultural Development in
Pakistan; Dr. (Mrs) Attiya Inayat Uyllah, Advisor to the Prime Minister, on Role of Women in Nation-
Building Activities; Mr. Javed Jabbar, Senator, on Role and Effectiveness of the Media in Enhancing
Socio-Political Awareness of our People; Commodore M.J.Z. Malik, DNI, on Naval Threat to Pakistan;
and Rear Admiral Mansur ul Haque, Commander Pakistan Fleet, on Pakistan Fleet Including Air Arm.

2. 1989

Lieutenant General (ret) Sahibzada Yakub Khan, Foreign Minister and former Commandant; Major
General (ret) Riaz Azim, former Commandant; Brigadier (ret) A.R. Saddiqui, on Geo-Strategic
Environment of Pakistan; U.S. Ambassador Robert Oakley, of U.S.-Pakistan Relations; Major General
Muhammad Nisar Akhtar, Director General Military Training, on Training in the Pakistan Army; Soviet
Ambassador Victor P. Yakunin, on USSR-Pakistan Relations; Major General Muhammad Rashid Beg,
DCGS; Admiral Iftikar Ahmed Sirohey, Chairman Joint Chiefs of staff Committee; General Mirza
Aslam Beg, Chief of Army Staff; Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah, Chief of Air Staff; Brigadier (ret) Noor
Hussain, on Geo-Politics; Air Vice Marshal M. R. Aftab Iqbal, on Air Defence of Pakistan; President of
Azad Kashmir, on The Kashmir Problem; Senator Javed Jabbar, on The Role of the Media in Pakistan;
Major General (ret) Amir Hamza Khan, on Combat Leadership; Mr. Justice Nasim Hasan Shah, on
Islamic Concept of the State; Major General Agha Masood Hasan, on Army Air Defence; Brigadier
Rehmatullah, on Army Aviation; Syeda Abida Hussain, on the Role of Pakistani Women; Dr. Amir
Muhammad, on Agriculture in Pakistan; Dr. Muhammad Asif, on the Islamic Economic System; Dr.
Muhammad Rafizullah Azmi, on Soviet Politics in South Asia; Dr. Muhammad Afzal, on Education in
Pakistan; Lieutenant General Shamim Alam Khan, Chief of General Staff, on Operational Readiness
of the Pakistan Army; Lieutenant General Muhammad Arif Bangash, Inspector General Training and

David O. Smith

Evaluation, on Training in the Pakistan Army; Major General Javed Nasir, on Indian Defence Budget;
Lieutenant General Talat Masood, Director General Defence Production, on Indigenous Defence
Production; Brigadier Asad Durrani, Director General Military Intelligence, on Land Threat to Pakistan;
Brigadier Tariq Mahmud, Commandant SSG, on Role of Special Services Group; Major General
Muhammad Arshad Malik, on Pakistan’s Threat Perception; Major General Ayaz Ahmed, on High
Altitude Operations.

3. 1990

Admiral Iftikar Ahmed Sirohey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, on National Defence
Policy; General Mirza Aslam Beg, Chief of Army Staff, on The Pakistan Army; Admiral Yassir ul
Haq Malik, Chief of Naval Staff, on The Pakistan Navy; Air Chief Marshal Hakimullah, Chief of Air
Staff, on The Pakistan Air Force; Rear Admiral Khalid Muhammad Mir, COMPAK, on Pakistan Fleet
and Fleet Air Arm; Lieutenant General Shamim Alam Khan, Chief of General Staff, on Operational
Readiness and Plans of Pakistan Army; Lieutenant General Arif Bangash, IGT&E, on Training in the
Army; Lieutenant General Agha Nek Muhammad, Quartermaster General, on Logistics Support
to Pakistan Army; Lieutenant General Muhammad Ashraf, Adjutant General, on Administration;
Air Vice Marshal Dilawar Hussain, on Air Defence of Pakistan; Air Commodore Jawied Ahsan, on
Air Threat to Pakistan; Commodore Jawaid Iqbal, Director Naval Intelligence, on Naval Threat to
Pakistan; Major General Muhammad Asif Khan Durrani, Director General Military Intelligence, on
Land Threat to Pakistan; Major General Zia Ullah, Joint Staff Headquarters, on Higher Defence
Organisation; Major General Irshad Ullah Tarar, Force Commander Northern Areas, on High Altitude
Operations and the Siachin Conflict; Major General Muhammad Arshad Choudhry, on Pakistan’s
Threat Perception; Brig Muhammad Ikram, Cmdt SSG, on Pakistan Special Services Group; Brig
(ret) Noor Hussain, on Introduction to Geopolitics; Dr. Shireen Mazari, on Geopolitical Environment
in the Region in Future; Mr. Mushahid Hussain, on Geopolitical Overview of Region and Impact on
the Security of Pakistan; Mr. Ghani Eirabie, on India as a Regional Power; Dr. Stephen Cohen, on
American Policy in South Asia; Prof Pervez Iqbal Cheema, Evolution of International Political Order;
Lieutenant General (ret) Kamal Matinuddin, on Gulf Crisis and its Implications; Mr. S.K. Mehmud, on
Internal Dynamics of Pakistan; Mr. Justice Muhammad Yusaf Saraf, on The Kashmir Issue; Dr. Akmal
Hussain, on Economics of Defence; Dr. Muhammad Arif, on Provincial Economic System; Mr. Shafi
Khan, on Modern Techniques of Management; Prof. Khwaja Ahmed Saeed, on Operations Research
and Systems Analysis; Mr. M.A. Hijazi, on Price Hike: Reasons and Remedies; Mr. Aslam Azhar, on
Role and Effectiveness of Media in Enhancing Socio-Political Awareness of the people; Mr. Justice
Nasim Hasan Shah, on Islamic Concept of the State; Justice (ret) Javed Iqbal, on Iqbal’s Role in the
Movement for Pakistan; Dr. Abul Khair Kashfi, on Iqbal’s View on Struggle, Jihad, and Mard-e-Momen.

4. 1993

Chairman of Joint Chiefs of staff Committee Gen Shamim Alam Khan on Pakistan’s Security
Environment and Defence Policy; COAS General Abdul Waheed on the Internal and External Security
Dynamics of Pakistan; Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Feroze Farooq Khan on Operational
Readiness of the Pakistan Air Force. Additionally there were Dr. (Mrs.) Unaiza Niaz on Stress
Management; Professor Abdul Qayyum on The Art of Writing a Research Paper; Mr. Zia Shafi Khan
on Introduction to Modern Techniques of Management; Lieutenant General Javed Nasir, Director
General ISI, Threat to Pakistan’s Security; Dr. Maleeha Lodhi on Pakistan’s Political Experience;
Air Commodore Hameed Aktar Malik, Assistant CAS (Air Intelligence), on Air Threat to Pakistan;
Lieutenant General Sabeeh Qamar uz Zaman, Chairman Pakistan Steel, on Crisis management and
Decision-Making; Major General Hamid Hasan Butt, Signal Officer-in-Chief, on Modernization of

The Quetta Experience

Communications in the Pakistan Army and Electronic Warfare; Major General Muhammad Mushtaq,
Director General Military Intelligence, on Land Threat to Pakistan; Professor Pervez Iqbal Cheema
on Introduction to Geopolitics; Commander Muhamad Yunas, Maritime Surveillance Agency,
on Peacetime Problems of Pakistan’s Coast and the EEZ and Its Potential; Dr. Javid Iqbal on the
Philosophy of Pakistan; Miss Talat Ayesha Wazirat on Security Imperatives of Pakistan; Brigadier
Muhammad Nazir, Cdmt SSG, on the Role and Employment of SSG; Dr. Gulfaraz Ahmed, Chairman
Oil and Gas Development Corporation, on Energy Crisis and the Prospects of Development of Oil and
Gas in Pakistan; Dr. Maqbool Ahmad Bhatty on Evolution of International Political Order and Emerging
Geo-Political Trends; Sardar Abdul Qayyum, Prime Minister of AJK, on the Kashmir Issue--History
and Prospects; Mr. Fakr Imam, Fed Min for Education, on Pakistan’s Educational and Technological
Challenges of the Future; Mr. Mazur Rafi, Secretary Def Production, on Indigenous Defence
Production of Equipment, Weapons, and Ammunition and Procurement Problems; Lieutenant General
Ayaz Ahmed, Commander 11 Corps, on Operations in Glaciated Areas; Mr. Mushahid Hussain on
Role and Performance of the Media in Enhancing Socio-Political Awareness; Lieutenant General
Farrukh Khan, Chief of General Staff, on Operational Readiness of the Pakistan Army; Lieutenant
General Muhammad Arif Bangash, Quartermaster General, on Logistics Support for the Pakistan
Army; Lieutenant General (ret) Gul Hassan Khan, former Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army,
on The Quaid As I Knew Him; Brig Imtiaz Shaheen, Director Military Training, on UN Peacekeeping
Operations; Mr. S.K. Mehmood on Internal Dynamics of Pakistan; Brigadier Muhammad Naim Rana,
Director PPA, on Pay, Pension, and Allowances of the Pakistan Army; Commodore Gul Zaman Malik,
Director Naval Intelligence, on the Naval Threat to Pakistan; Brigadier Asif Kamal Mirza, Dir Psyops,
on Psychological Operations; Major General Khalid Nawaz Malik, MS, on Military Secretary Matters;
Lieutenant General Moin Uddin Haider, Adjutant General on Manpower Induction System, Welfare,
and Other AG Matters; Dr. A.Q. Khan on Exploitation Potential of Nuclear and Missile Technology in
South Asia; Prof Abdul Qayyum on Attributes of a Staff Officer; Dr. Yakum Hasmi on The Pakistan
Movement; and Dr. Iqbal Ahmed on the Internal Dynamics of the American Political System and Its
Impact on the World.

The Student considered the guest speaker program was excellent and a very enjoyable part of the
course despite the occasional anti-U.S. or anti-western points of view. Several presentations were
for Pakistani students only, for example, Dr. A.Q. Khan and several of the military speakers.

5. 2002

Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf; the Chairman, Joint chiefs of Staff Committee,
General Muhammad Aziz Khan; the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Shahid Karimullah; the Chief of Air
Staff, Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir; and the Vice Chief of Army Staff, General Yusaf Khan; Begum
Zakia Sarwar, Language Skills and Guljee’s Art; Amin Guljee, Art and Craft; Lieutenant General (R)
Moinuddin Haider, Minister of Interior, Internal Threat to Pakistan ; Mrs. Nasim Zehra, Emerging
Geopolitical Trends; Lieutenant General Zarrar Azim, Cdr 4 Corps, Operations of a Holding Corps
in Plains; Dr Anees Ahmad Khan, Islam-Challenges of 21st Century; Mr. Shahid Hamid, National
Integration and Political Process in Pakistan; Lieutenant General Shahid Siddique Tirmizi, Commander
2 Corps, Operations of Strike Corps; Major General Ali Hamid, Director General Defence Export and
Promotion Organization, Environmental and Revolutionary Schools of Strategic Thought; Sardar M.
Abdul Qayyum, Kashmir Issue; Vice Admiral Shahid Karimullah, COMPAK, Pakistan Fleet; General
(R) Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan Military Thought and Development of the Armed Forces; Lieutenant
General Tauqir Zia, Inspector General Training and Evaluation, Training in the Army; Lieutenant
General Khalid Kidwai, Director General Strategic Plans Division, Nuclear Doctrine and Employment

David O. Smith

of Strategic Forces; Lieutenant General Imtiaz Shaheen, Chief of Logistics Staff, Logistic Support
Pakistan Army; Lieutenant General Shahid Aziz, Chief of General Staff, Operational Readiness
Pakistan Army; Lieutenant General Muhammad Akram, Military Secretary, MS Matters; Lieutenant
General Javed Hassan, Commandant National Defence University, Military Systems; Major General
Ehteshim Zamir, College Traditions; Major General Sajjad Akram, Expectations of a Staff Officer;

6. 2008-2009

Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani; the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Suleiman;
and the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Noman Bashir. Others were Mr. Inam Ul Haq, on Pakistan’s
Foreign Policy: Opportunities and Challenges; Dr. Sikandar Hayat, on Research Methodology; Major
General Shaukat Sultan Khan, Commander 10 Div, on Operations of a Holding Corps in the Plains;
Major General (ret) Syed Ali Hamid, on Evolution of Warfare; Major General Nasir Mehmud, Director
General Aviation, on Employment of Aviation in Def Opns; Lieutenant General (ret) Javed Hassan,
on Indian Strategic Thinking; Dr. Pervez Iqbal Cheema, on Intro to Geopolitics; Mr. Ejaz Haider, on
Media as an Element of National Power; Lieutenant General (ret) Khalid Kidwai, on Nuclear Capability
of Pakistan; Lieutenant General Sikandar Afzal, Commander 2 Corps, on Operations of Strike Corps;
Lieutenant General Muhammad Ashraf Saleem, Commander Army Air Defence, on Role and Org
of AAD; Major General Khalid Jaffrey, Director General Anti-Narcotics Force, on Narcotics and Drug
Trafficking; Mr. Zarrar Zubair, on Human Rights Development in Pakistan; Lieutenant General Tanvir
Tahir, Inspector General Computers and Information Technology, on NCW (presumably this acronym
refers to cyber warfare)--Pakistan Army Vision and Strategy; Mr. Kevin Baff, on Law of Armed Conflict;
Mr Abdullah, on Ideology and the State; Major General Muzammil Hussain, Commander, Forces
Command Northern Areas, on Operations in Mountains and Glaciated Areas; Lieutenant General
(ret) Farooq Ahmed Khan, on Genesis of the National Disaster Management Agency; Lieutenant
General Ahsen Azhar Hayat, Inspector General Training and Evaluation, on Training in the Army;
Lieutenant General Shafaat Ullah Shah, Chief of Logistics Staff, on Logistics in the Pakistan Army;
Major General Salim Nawaz, Inspector General Frontier Corps-Balochistan, on Security Situation in
Balochistan; Brigadier (ret) Mehmud Shah, on Dynamics of the FATA; Lieutenant General Shahid
Iqbal, Commander 5 Corps, on Operations of a Holding Corps in the Desert and Employment of
the Operational Reserve; Rear Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandilla, COMPAK, on Pakistan Navy Fleet;
Major General Liaqat Ali, Director General Rangers-Sind, on LIC in Urban Environment; Lieutenant
General Masood Aslam, Commander 11 Corps, on Operation Al Mizan; Lieutenant General Javed Zia,
Adjutant General, on AG Matters; Dr. Kawaja Ahmed Saeed, on Financial Mgmt; Lieutenant General
Mustafa Khan, Chief of General Staff, on Operational Readiness of the Pakistan Army; Lieutenant
General Zahid Hussain, Quartermaster General on QMG Matters; Lieutenant General Mohsin Kamal,
Military Secretary, on MS Matters.

7. 2011-2012

The Student estimated he was excluded from attending approximately 25 percent of these
presentations: Syed Yusaf Raza Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan, on Issues of Vital Importance to
the Country; General Khalid Shamim Wynne, Chairman Joint Chiefs of staff Committee, on Security
Environment and Higher Defence Organisation; General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff,
on Vision of Pakistan Army; Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila. Chief of Naval Staff, on Pakistan Navy
Vision: Challenges and Response; Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of Air Staff, on Pakistan
Air Force Vision: Challenges and Response; Lieutenant General (ret) Syed Amjad, on Effective
Thinking Key to Effective Communication; Major General (ret) Syed Ali Hamid, on Evolution of

The Quetta Experience

Warfare; Lieutenant General (ret) Tariq Waseem Ghazi, on Evolution of Pakistan Military Thought; Mr.
Aziz Ahmad Khan, on Pakistan’s Foreign Policy: Opportunities and Challenges; Lieutenant General
Raheel Sharif, Commander 30 Corps, on Employment of Holding Corps in Plains; Dr. Rifaat Hussain,
on Research Methodology; Major General Sadiq Ali, Commander 1 Armored Division, on Operations
of a Strike Corps; Mr. Talat Hussain, on Media as an Element of National Power; Dr. Ishrat Hussain,
D&D IBA, on Economics of Pakistan: Challenges and Prospects; Mr. Ashfaq Mehmood, on Water
Issues Between India and Pakistan; Mr. Sardar Attique Ahmed Khan, former Prime Minister of Azad
Jammu and Kashmir, on Kashmir Issue; Wing Commander Liaqat Ullah Iqbal, Deputy Director UAVs
(Ops), on Pakistan Air Force Recce and Surveillance Capability; Mr. Mushahid Hussain, on Civil-
Military Affairs; Major General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Commandant School of Infantry and Tactics, on
Intro to Strategic/Operational Terms and Operational Strategy; Lieutenant General Khalid Nawaz Khan,
Commander 10 Corps, on Operations in Mtn/Glaciated Terrain; Major General Hidayat ur Rehman,
Chief of Staff Southern Command, on Operational Appreciation; Lieutenant General Muhammad Ijaz
Chaudhry, Director General Rangers (Sind), on LIC in Urban Environment; Major General Obaid Ullah
Khan, Inspector General Frontier Corps Balochistan, on Concept of Operations; Lieutenant General
Muhammad Haroon Aslam, Commander 31 Corps, on Operations of Holding Corps in the Desert;
Lieutenant General Waheed Arshad, Chief of General Staff, on Operational Readiness of Pakistan
Army; Major General Rifat Jamil Vance, Director General Logistics, on Logistic Support to Pakistan
Army; Lieutenant General (ret) Muhammad Asghar, Rector National University of Sciences and
Technology, on Development of Higher Education in Pakistan; Dr. Samar Mubarak Mand, on Energy
and Security Interests of Pakistan; Dr. Habibullah Khan, Secy SAFRON, on Dynamics of FATA and
Swat; Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani, Commander 11 Corps, on Operation Al Mizan; Lieutenant
General Muzzamil Hussain, Inspector General Training and Evaluation, on Training in the Army;
Lieutenant General (ret) Sir Alistair Irwin, British Army, on Sub-Conventional Warfare: UK Experience
in Northern Ireland; Commodore Ather Mukhtar, Commander 9th Auxiliary, on The Pakistan Fleet; Dr
Zafar Jaspal, on Conventional Asymmetry: Pakistan Nuclear Posture Transformation; Rear Admiral
Zafar Mehmood Abbasi, COMCOAST, on Coastal Defence of Pakistan; Lieutenant General Naweed
Zaman, Military Secretary, on Career Management of Officers.

8. 2013-2014

Chief of Army staff General Raheel Sharif*; Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Asif Sandila on
Pakistan Navy—Vision, Challenges, and Response; Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique
Butt on PAF Vision—Challenges and Response; Air Marshal Mark Binskin, Australian Vice Chief of
Defense Forces on the Centenary of the Graduation from the Staff College of Field Marshal Blamey;
Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais on Evolution of the International Political Order; Mr. Shaukat Tarin on The
Economy of Pakistan; Lieutenant General (ret) Muhammad Maqbool on Evolution of warfare; Mr.
Aziz Ahmed Khan on Pakistan’s Foreign Policy; Dr. Mohammad Bilal Khan on Research Methodology;
Lieutenant General (ret) Shafqaat Ahmed on Evolution of Pakistan’s Military Thought; Major General
Bilal Akbar, GOC 11 Division, or Employment of a Holding Corps in Plains; Lieutenant General
(ret) Muzzamil Hussain on Motivation and Leadership; Prof. Dr. Anis Ahmad on Sectarianism and
Extremism in Pakistan; Brigadier Ali Farhan on Pakistan’s Information Operations Concept; Major
General Mohammad Samrez Salik on Introduction to Strategy: Operational Terms and Notions
of Operational Strategy; Vice Admiral (ret) Iftikar Ahmed Rao on Maritime Economy; Lieutenant
General Abid Pervaiz, Commander 2 Corps, on Operations of a Strike Corps; Mr. Syed Talat Hussain
on Media as an element of National Power; Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan on Food Security in Pakistan;
Lieutenant General (ret) Muhammad Asghar on Development of Higher Education in Pakistan with
Special Focus on Science and Technology; Dr. Rifaat Hussain on Kashmir Issue; Mr. Altaf Muhammad

David O. Smith

Saleem on Threats from Dysfunctional State Apparatus; Major General Ausaf Ali, Director General
(Technology) Special Plans Division, on Nuclear Capability of Pakistan; Major General Ghulam Omar,
GOC 19 Division, on Operations in Mountainous and Glaciated Terrain; Lieutenant General (ret) Agha
Muhammad Farooq on Non-Kinetic Warfare; Ms. Salma Malik on Conventional Asymmetry: Pakistan’s
Nuclear Posture Transformation; Mr. Ashfaq Mehmood on Water Issue Between India and Pakistan;
Air Marshal Sohail Aman, DCAS (Operations) on Pakistan’s Response to Pro-Active Operations and
Role in Sub-Conventional Warfare; Major General Mustaq Ahmad Faisal, Director General Logistics
on Logistic Support to the Pakistan Army; Major General Sadiq Ali, GOC 35 Division, on Operations
of a Holding Corps in Desert and the Employment of Reserves; Mr. Munawar Basser Ahmad on
Energy Security Interests of Pakistan; Lieutenant General Ikram ul Haq, IGT&E, on Training in the
Pakistan Army; Mr. Saleem Safe on the Evolving Situation in Afghanistan: Its Effects on the Region
with respect to Pakistan and the Dynamics of Swat and FATA; Lieutenant General Khalid Rabbani,
Commander 11 Corps, on Operation Al Mizan; Commander Rasul Lodhi on COMPAK/Pakistan Fleet;
Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi on Human Rights Law and Conflict Resolution; Major General Akhtar Jamil
Rao, GOC 45 Engineer Division on Impact of Pakistan Army’s Soft Power Development in FATA/
Malakand Division; Major General Muhammad Ejaz Shahid, IGFC Balochistan, on Security Situation
in Balochistan; Major General Muhammad Tauqeer Ahmad, Director General Budget, on Financial
Management; Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmad, Chief of General Staff, on Operational Readiness
of the Pakistan Army; Lieutenant General Khalid Asghar, Inspector General Communications and
Information Technology, on Communications and IT Concepts; and Lieutenant General Mazhar Jamil,
Military Secretary, on Career Management of Officers.

* Normally, foreign students rarely are allowed to attend guest presentations by serving officers; on
this occasion, General Raheel requested that all foreign students be allowed to hear his presentation.

The Quetta Experience

ANNEX H: Staff College Seminars and Major

The following information was extracted from the annual Staff College yearbook,
The Review, in the year indicated below:

1. 1987

The College Seminar was on Land-Air Warfare and consisted of the following panel of officers
(appointments were not given): Lieutenant General Muhammad Iqbal, Air Vice Marshal Amjad H.
Khan, Major General Abdus Sami, Major General Aga Masood Hasan, and Brigadier Askari Raza

No description of major exercises was included in the yearbook.

2. 1989

The College Seminar was on “Management.” There was a preparatory week with several guest
speakers followed by a week in which students were split into research groups and given a live
problem of management in field formations. Their work was then presented during the formal
“management” week to the entire course. Speakers included: Major General Agha Masood Hasan,
Mr. Zia Shafi Khan, Habib Group of Companies; Mr. Arshad Abdullah, on Intro to Modern Techniques
of Management; Dr. Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, on Concept of Modern Management; Mr. Muhammad Hanif
Aurakzai, on Modern Management Techniques; and Mr. Muhammad N. Hussain, on Effective Time

No description of major exercises was included in the yearbook.

3. 1990

The College seminar was held on 10-12 November on the topic of Pakistan Army in the Year 2000.
Speakers included General (ret) K.M. Arif, former Vice Chief of Army Staff, on Characteristics
and Environments of the Future War; Major General Jehangir Karamat, Director General Military
Operations, on Indian Military Strategy; Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, Commander 2 Corps, on
LandAir Warfare (paper read by his Chief of Staff, Brig Saleem Haider); and Major General Moinuddin
Haider, former Director Military Training, on Training System and Development of Leadership for a
Future War.

No description of major exercises was included in the yearbook.

4. 1993

The College seminar was on Training in the Pakistan Army and consisted of the following panel of
officers: Lieutenant General Syed Tanvir Hussain Naqvi, a former Staff College Commandant, and
two serving division commanders, Major General Muhammad Arshad Chaudhry and Major General
Muhammad Maqbool.

David O. Smith

There were two additional panel presentations, “mini” seminars, on Air Defence Operations. This
featured a joint presentation by the heads of the Army Air Defence Command and the Pakistan Air
Force Air Defence Command. The second was on India, featuring presentations by Mr. Abdul Sattar,
a former Foreign Secretary, and Brigadier (ret) Bashir Ahmed, on the Indian psyche, the Indian armed
forces, and India’s goals and ambitions in the region.

Description of major exercises:

• Exercise Night Sentinel. A five day war-game conducted as a one-sided battle involving
division and brigade-sized units in a Punjab terrain environment with Control acting as the
Foxland enemy. Information was passed to the players by telephone messages, exercise
narratives, and (apparently for the first time) emails.
• Exercise Koh Shikan Kayani. A four day war-game conducted as a two-sided battle involving
division and brigade-sized units in a mountainous terrain (the first time such a game had been
played at the SC). Control adjudicated the moves developed by each team of players.
• Exercise Tri Brachial. A three day joint services exercise that has been conducted annually
since at least 1982. Although a tactical exercise, it featured three seminars on air, ground,
and naval operations and final “exchange of views” by the service components afterward.
• Exercise Sand Storm. No duration was given for this defensive exercise set in desert terrain
with Blue land (Pakistan) defending against a Foxland (India) offensive operation. According
to the yearbook description, “the exercise gave a foretaste of a split second nuclear age
decision-making when one of the Blueland commanders was given only a few minutes to
launch the divisional reserves. The Blueland corps reserves which throughout the exercise
hung like the ’Damocles’ Sword’ over Foxland forces finally flashed with a vengeance to end
the exercise.”
• Exercise Ravi Blitz. Of unknown duration, this was another traditional SC exercise conducted
in the setting of a Blueland offensive operation in the Ravi-Beas Corridor (RBC) east of Lahore
on Indian Territory. It featured the planning for bridgehead operations over a major water
obstacle, the induction of armor forces in the bridgehead, and a breakout battle afterward.
The Student recalls the allied students were not allowed to participate in this exercise
probably because it might have had a nuclear component.

5. 2002

There were two major seminars:

• The Threat to Pakistan’s Security featured a panel of the Commandant, the Chief Instructor,
Major General Khalid Jaffrey (GHQ), Brigadier Waqar Durrani (ISI), Air Commodore Aftab Iqbal
(PAF), and Captain Javed Arshad (PN). It focused on “the nature and specifics of the external,
land, naval, and air threat to Pakistan’s security.”
• Limited War featured a panel from GHQ consisting of Lieutenant General Ahsen Saleem
Hayat, Quartermaster General, and Major General Ashraf Saleem, Commander 4 AD Div. It
focused on “various aspects of limited war and ways to meditate on a response for emerging

The Quetta Experience

The year’s major exercises were described as follows:

• Exercise Night Post. Defensive telephone battle exercise set near Pishin. Involved physical
terrain recce. Foxland aggressor.
• Exercise Zarghun Heights. Mountain warfare TEWT set in the vicinity of the Sleeping Beauty
• Exercise Chinar Wadi. Mountain Warfare telephone battle set in a Kashmiri environment.
• Exercise Vulcan Stithy. Movement and logistics exercise. One-sided exercise against a
controller team inputting various incidents that required movement changes and adjustments.
• Exercise Sand Storm. Two-sided exercise in a desert environment.
• Exercise Ravi Blitz II. Armor offensive operations with Foxland defending against a Blueland
armor thrust.
• Exercise Tri-Brachial. The traditional joint exercise with participation from the Pakistan Air
Force and Pakistan Navy Staff Colleges.

6. 2008-2009

There were two major seminars:

• Threat to Pakistan’s Security (Land, Air, Naval, and Internal) with panelists Major General
Mustapha Khan, Director General (Analysis), Inter-Services Intelligence; Air Vice Marshal Asim
Suleiman, Director General Air Intelligence; Brigadier Khalid Mahmud, Director, Office of the
Director General Military Intelligence; and Commodore Abdul Hamid Meer, Director of Naval
• Future Challenges for Pakistan Army (Leadership, Environment, and Training) with panelists
Lieutenant Generals (ret) Tariq Waseem Ghazi and Muhammad Sabir, and Major General
Sardar Mehmood Ali Khan, Director General Military Training.

Major Exercises:

• Exercise Dewar-E-Aahan. Weeklong one-sided defensive scenario in a corps setting against
• Exercise Chinar Wadi--Two week two-sided exercise in a mountain warfare scenario.
• Exercise Vulcan Stithy. Follow-on exercise to several tutorial exercises, this involved the
planning and calculations for logistic support to a corps.
• Exercise Sand Storm III. Eight day (not counting initial preparation) two-sided war-game in a
desert setting with a Foxland opponent.
• Exercise Fading Shadows. Weeklong LIC two-sided exercise with students playing against a
“miscreant” opponent.
• Exercise Tri-Brachial. The annual tri-service seminar/war-game.

7. 2011-2012

College Seminars:

• Threat to Pakistan’s Security: Panel composed of Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha,
Director General ISI; Commandant Staff College; Director General Military Intelligence;

David O. Smith

Director General Air Intelligence; Director General Naval Intelligence. Discussion of the land,
air, naval, and internal security threats to Pakistan.
• Unconventional Threats to Pakistan’s Security: Panel consisting of Dr. Riffat Hussain, National
Defence University; Mr. Muhammad Ashraf Janjua, Institute of Business Management.
Discussion of the ideology of Pakistan, weak economy, poor governance, and the connection
to national security
• Air Defence Seminar. Panel of Staff College students from the Army, PAF, and PN Air
Defence forces

Major Exercises:

• Exercise Al Maroos. One-sided telephone battle set in plains of the Punjab. Blueland was
initially on defense, stabilized the front after a Foxland offensive, and prepared to launch a
• Exercise Chinar Wadi II. Set in mountain terrain. Again, Blueland stopped a Foxland offensive
operation well short of the objective.
• Exercise Vulcan’s Stithy. Primarily an exercise designed to determine how to logistically
support the movement and sustainment of a corps, with students playing the role of the
commander Corps Logistics against student control organizations.
• Exercise Sandstorm IV. Two-sided telephone battle with a student control organization set in
a desert environment.
• Exercise Fading Shadows. Two-sided war-game with student controllers set in low-intensity
conflict environment. Featured students playing regular Army units mixed with paramilitary
forces fighting militants in a Federally Administered Tribal Areas setting.
• Exercise Tri-Brachial. The typical tri-service orientation featuring capabilities briefings from
all services and set along the coast of Pakistan. Followed by sports tournaments and social
activities between the three participating staff colleges.
• Exercise Ravi Blitz II. Set in the Ravi-Beas Corridor (RBC), this was an armor exercise
of crossing a water obstacle, building up armor forces in a bridgehead, and launching a
counterattack against Foxland forces now on the defensive.

8. 2013-2014

College Seminars:

• Threat to Pakistan’s Security. Panel composed of Major General Naveed Mukhtar, Director
General (Counter-terrorism) Inter-Service Intelligence; Major General Sarfraz Sattar, DGMI;
Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar, DGNI; and Air Commodore Asim Anwar, DDGAI.
• Air Defence Seminar. Aim was to develop a better understanding about the air threat posed
by our adversary (India) through its numerical preponderance, technological advancements in
air power, and the importance of air defence in Pakistan’s operational environment. The panel
was headed by Wing Commander Azim Qasim. Other members were Wing Commander
Amjad Mehmood, Wing Commander Masood Hussain, Lieutenant Commander Mansoor Ali,
Major Khalid Khan Lodhi, and Major Farrukh Altaf.
• Civil-Military Relations: Challenges and Responses. The panel was composed of Mr. Javed
Jabbar, Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi, and Dr. Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi. Dr. Soherwordi
established the linkage between C-M relations and the contemporary security environment
and Mr. Jabbar highlighted the neglected areas of Pakistan.

The Quetta Experience

Major Exercises:

• Exercise Al Maroos. The exercise was conducted in four stages conforming to the defensive
operational cycle to the employment of corps reserves. The DS sponsor was Lt Col Salman
Nazar, Punjab. Four student GOCs (general officers commanding a division) were selected, as
were four student chief controllers.
• Exercise Chinar Wadi. This was a mountain warfare exercise set in the terrain along the Line
of Control (LOC) with India. All aspects of mountain warfare were included, and the exercise
ended following the launching of the corps reserves. Like the previous exercise, it had four
student GOCs and four student chief controllers. The DS sponsor was Lt Col Ikram Ul Haque,
• Exercise Vulcan’s Stithy. This was a logistics exercise set in a Pro-active Operations
environment (shallow attacks along the international border with India designed to keep
below Pakistan’s perceived nuclear threshold). The primary focus was on the preparatory
phase of operations with staff checks for the movement and assembly of forces, logistical
support to a deployed corps, and contingency plans. The exercise “mentor” was Brigadier
Asim Iqbal, Commander Corps Logistics, Headquarters 30 Corps. Four students served as
exercise CC Logs, and four were chief controllers.
• Exercise Sandstorm IV. Two-sided war game with a student control organization set in a
desert environment. Lt Col Adman Sultan, AC was the DS sponsor. The exercise setting
was Indian Pro-active Operations and Pakistan’s “New Concept of War Fighting.” The game
spanned a period of three weeks. Bravo Division acted as Blueland (friendly forces), Alpha
and Delta Divisions acted as Foxland (enemy), and Bravo Division acted as control. According
to The Review, The exercise buzzword was “seamless fusion,” which was rarely found other
than in the student lounge during tea breaks.
• Exercise Fading Shadows. Two-sided war-game with student controllers set in low-intensity
conflict environment. Lt Col Habib Nawaz, Baloch was the DS sponsor. The exercise
explored the complete Sub-conventional warfare operational cycle from the employment of
the Frontier Corps to kinetic and then stability operations, including the planning of non-
kinetic operations designed to win the hearts and minds of the local populace. The control
organization included two assistant chief controllers (miscreants).
• Exercise Tri-Brachial. The traditional tri-service orientation featuring capabilities briefings from
all services and set along the coast of Pakistan. Followed by sports tournaments and social
activities between the three participating staff colleges.
• Exercise Ravi Blitz II. This exercise was the final exercise of the year. Lt Col Yahya Adman,
Arty was the DS sponsor. Set in the Ravi-Beas Corridor (RBC), this was a two-sided offensive
armor exercise that included planning for crossing a water obstacle, building up armor forces
in a bridgehead, and launching a counterattack against Foxland forces now on the defensive.

David O. Smith

ANNEX I: Pakistan Army Generations
1. The collection of data on attitudes and values of Pakistan Army Command and Staff College
students over nearly a four decade period affords an opportunity to test whether attitudinal
differences positively correlate with generational differences. But to determine if any differences
exist, it is first necessary to specify what is meant by the term “military generation.” In research
conducted in the early 1980s, Stephen Cohen identified three broad categories of generations and
sub-generations in the Pakistan Army: a British Generation that began in the 1920s and lasted until
independence in 1947, an American Generation that began in the early-1950s and lasted until the mid-
1960s, and a Pakistani Generation that began in the mid-1960s and continues to the present.1

2. Since all recent and future military generations are by definition Pakistani, it is more useful to
aggregate them by the decades they entered military service. The underlying assumption in this
approach is that an individual’s general character and values are normally formed in the first decade
and a half of life and are largely shaped by familial and societal experiences, and similarly, that an
individual’s military attitudes and values are largely shaped in the first decade and a half of service by
his professional military education and military experiences. In the Pakistan Army, this is the period
in which he (and increasingly she in the latest cohort) attends the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA),
serves in units at the battalion level, and attends the Staff College. During this formative period,
internal and external events may also influence the professional development process. Therefore, the
sum total of their experiences in this first decade and a half of military service may be said to shape
their generational values and attitudes.

3. A military career in Pakistan lasts approximately 40 years. A “gentleman cadet” generally enters
PMA at the age of 18, is commissioned at age 20, attends the Staff College in his early 30s, is
promoted to brigadier in his early 40s, and eventually becomes a lieutenant general in his early 50s.
Normally, all officers retire at the age of 58, with the exception of four-star officers who retire three
years later, approximately around the age of 60. Using this template, we can identify the five most
recent military generations:

a. The 1960s Military Generation. This cohort was born in the early to mid-1940s, attended
PMA in the 1960s, and has now passed from the scene. Many of their parents were immigrants
from India. They were raised with stories of the horrors of the 1947 Partition and the difficulties of
establishing the new state of Pakistan. In their first decade and a half of service, they experienced
the close military relationship with the United States that existed before the 1965 war with India and
its subsequent decline afterward, combat in the 1965 war, and the domestic political turmoil after
the war that eventually caused the departure from power of Field Marshal Ayub Khan. Former Chiefs
of Army Staff (COAS) Abdul Waheed, Jehangir Karamat, and Pervez Musharraf were from this group
(former COAS Muhammad Zia ul-Haq was from the 1940s generation and Mirza Aslam Beg and
Abdul Waheed are from the 1950s generation).

b. The 1970s Military Generation. This cohort has born in the early-to-mid 1950s, attended
PMA in the 1970s, and now constitutes the topmost ranks of the Army. Recently retired Chief of
Army Staff (COAS) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and current COAS Raheel Sharif are from this group. In
their first decade and a half of service they experienced the handover of power from Ayub to another
military leader, General Muhammad Yahya Khan, combat in the 1971 war with India (with many held
as prisoners of war for months afterward), the loss of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), a return

to civil governance under Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the 1977 military coup by COAS
Muhammad Zia ul-Haq.

c. The 1980s Military Generation. This cohort was born in the early 1960s, attended
PMA in the 1980s, and is now entering the senior ranks of the Army. In their first decade and a
half of service they experienced Zia’s “Islamization” of the Army, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
and rising of Afghan mujahideen to resist it, the revitalization of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship and
eventual re-imposition of U.S. economic and military sanctions because of Pakistan’s fledgling nuclear
program, the 1987 Brasstacks crisis with India, and the 1988 death of Zia in a plane crash and return
to civilian governance. This group will fully constitute the topmost leadership by 2020.

d. The 1990s Military Generation. This cohort was born in the early 1970s, attended PMA
in the 1990s, and is now moving into the senior field grade ranks (colonels and brigadiers) of the
Army.2 In their first decade and a half of service they experienced more than a decade of political
turmoil with three civilian governments being constitutionally removed from office and a fourth
overthrown in a 1999 military coup by COAS General Pervez Musharraf, a decade of U.S. economic
and military sanctions, internal unrest in Afghanistan and the rise to power of the Taliban government,
a 1990 crisis and the 1998 Kargil “war” with India. This group will constitute the topmost leadership
ranks by 2030.

e. The 2000s Military Generation. This cohort was born in the early 1980s, attended PMA
in the 2000s, and is attending the Staff College. Its more senior members are being promoted to
the grade of lieutenant colonel. In their first decade and a half of service they experienced the 9/11
attacks by Al Qaeda on the United States, the U.S. response to take down the Taliban government in
Afghanistan, crises with India in 2001-2002 and 2008, the U.S. invasion of and withdrawal from Iraq,
the rise of internally focused militant groups, near-continuous military operations in the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the forced resignation of President Musharraf and the return of
civilian governance, and Army participation in major humanitarian operations caused by natural
disasters. This group will constitute the topmost leadership by 2040.


1. Stephen P. Cohen, The Pakistan Army (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1992), 55-74.
2. The Pakistan Army does not consider a brigadier to be a general officer, although for protocol reasons the U.S. military
equates this rank to that of a brigadier general. The first general officer grade in the Pakistan Army is major general, a
U.S. two-star equivalent position.